II. THE BRASS SERPENT
When Adam ate of the forbidden tree in Genesis 3, Satan, the old serpent, injected his evil nature into man. Our nature was poisoned with Satan’s nature and we became sinful, serpentine. This is why we often behave the way we do—like snakes. We also see this behavior all around us.
In the Old Testament, when the children of Israel sinned against God, many of them were bitten by serpents and died. When they cried out to Moses, the Lord told him to lift up a brass serpent on a pole. Everyone who looked at that serpent was forgiven, healed, and kept alive (Num. 21:4-9). In John 3:14 the Lord said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up." This means that when the Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross, He was lifted up as the brass serpent. He died so that the serpent might be destroyed. As the Lamb, He died on the cross to take away our sin. But as the brass serpent, He died on the cross to destroy the old serpent, Satan, the Devil (Heb. 2:14).
The brass serpent had only the likeness of a serpent. It did not have the poisonous nature. In the same way, Christ was made in the likeness of the flesh of sin (Rom. 8:3) yet He had no sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15). When Christ destroyed Satan, He also did away with the satanic nature in our flesh.
Satan is also the ruler of the world. The world is the system all around us which distracts us from God; it is the kingdom of darkness. Because Christ destroyed Satan, He also destroyed the world, his evil kingdom. As the brass serpent, Christ terminated Satan, our satanic nature, and the world.
That is Christ’s finished work. We, however, still are bothered every day by our sinful flesh and the world. The world is always trying to draw us away from the Lord by stirring up the lust of our flesh. So, we must apply Christ as the brass serpent to our daily experience. Galatians 5:24 says that "they who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts." Romans 8:13 says that by the Spirit we can put to death the practices of our body.
Take watching television as an example. You might realize that many things on television are unhealthy and dirty for our minds. You may also know that it can be a waste of your time. Yet, you may have experienced an uncontrollable urge to watch it, even against your parents’ wishes. That desire comes from the stirring up of the passions and lusts of your flesh. How can you be saved from it? You can be saved by turning to the Lord, who is the Spirit in your spirit. The Spirit contains everything Christ did, including His death as the brass serpent. When you call on Him, the Spirit comes with Christ’s crucifixion to kill your flesh. This is how we put to death the practices of our body by the Spirit. This is how we terminate the lusts and passions of the flesh. You may fail sometimes—that is why we have the blood. But do not use that as an excuse to sin. We all need to call on the dear Lord’s name to crucify the flesh. What a shame to the Devil! His efforts to use the world to attract our flesh will only cause us to call on the Lord even more! Hallelujah! Christ is the Victor!
- What was the goal of Christ’s incarnation and human living?
- Why must Christ die as the Lamb of God as well as the brass serpent?
- How can we apply what Christ has accomplished to our lives?
Quoted Portions from (Lee/LSM) Publications
- Stream Magazine Book Two, p. 1491.
- Life-study of Mark, p. 427.
- Life-study of First John, pp. 73, 106-108.
- Life-study of John, pp. 111-114, 229, 234-235.
- Life-study of Galatians, pp. 251-252.
(Lesson Book, Level 2: The Triune God—The Triune God and the Person and Work of Christ, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)