Ruth 3-4 / Isaiah 45 / Revelation 1-2
I have not spoken in secret,
from somewhere in a land of darkness;
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
When we are dead, we cannot choose life; it has to be given to us by God or else it isn't because the life, like the manna, is hidden. Before it was not secret; the way to be pleasing to God was disclosed—one had to be or become an Israelite, because they were a people specially chosen by God to be His representative group of humans who would conform to His way, to be recognized by all the others as the people of one God, amongst a world of other groups of humans who each had various gods. To the humans, having one God was ridiculous because none of the had only one God, like the Jews. To be a Jew was a declaration that though the whole world said one thing, everyone else but the Jews were wrong, because there always was only one God, and no other gods existed alongside the God of Abraham.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Adam was not able to go back and eat of the tree of life after he died, even if he wanted to. The image of the cherubim with a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life creates the idea of certainty that it couldn't ever happen after that line had been crossed when the human conspired against the God who wanted to be his Father, with his helper and the enemy of God. It also declares that's the state of the humans since, unable to reach out their hand and grab what God had reserved for His son, who rejected Him in favor of the thing that had frills attached to it, but had no substance. Although it looked good to the eyes and it seemed like it could get them something that wasn't being offered to them by God (power), it had the seed of death inside it. It wasn't what it appeared to be. Even from the beginning, the message from the Father to those who were being given eyes to see has been, "Whatever seems to be, isn't."
There are two trees mentioned in Genesis; the tree of life and the tree of the ability to know what is right and wrong, the ability to become the god of our self, to be independent and choose what we want for ourselves. There they had two choices, did they want to be like God's children because He gave them life (respect, honor, gratitude and love for the One who gave them so much), or did they want to be like God because they were wise (greed, aspiration toward self-promotion)? The irony is that's what they fully became, being given what they chose for themselves. One is about receiving and being satisfied with what the Father wanted to give them, trusting that He knows what is best and that He is capable of choosing the good things and the right way to go for them. It is about trusting His choice for them. The other is about the ego and self-preservation, selfish ambition and independence. It's not about love, which is trusting God, but self-love, just the opposite—the nature of the serpent, created by God to exist as a real choice for them, which became their father when they died.
Adam didn't need to do anything to stay alive—God took care of everything for him. God had a personal covenant with Adam, and He didn't want Adam to desire to be like Him, but to just be happy with what the Father wanted to give him, just be happy to be His son. God didn't want a son who wanted to compete with Him or conspire against Him; He wanted a son who wanted to love Him and just happily be near His Father. Then he could be a pleasure for God, so He could enjoy him and love him. Adam, in wanting to be like God, gained the ability to actually have that—he became a god over his new body of death. If you are a dead animal, then you get to be the god of yourself and you can decide what is good and bad for yourself, you don't have to count on anyone else to do it.
He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.
When we have been born of God we are alive. We don't need to keep trying to get life or be born more because we are born already and just need to patiently endure and grow into that maturity, after the example of the firstborn Son, which is the course and fate of the son of God. It isn't at all to become a better, more responsible or more honorable human, which is the premise of the religious institutions. It is actually to become as the Son was, a bad human who was not honorable but irresponsible and let the humans down. The Son was only responsible to the Father to protect the seed of life that lived in him against the seed of death that lives in the humans, which also wanted to get a foothold into his.
Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
That's how sin and death works in those who are called to deny it so the life of the Father can overtake the death that naturally lives in them because of Adam's conspiracy, and the Father giving him the death he wanted and chose, instead of what He was offering to him. If we give in just a little, then it is allowed to grow and persist, because we chose it, so it's like we're being given over to it, to have its way with us. Then the life goes away and we're left with nothing (death), because sin doesn't ever give anything back, it only takes and when it's done with us then it leaves us until another opportune time. The devil is very much alive, but not a fallen angel demigod who has a will of his own. It is the mechanism created by God to keep the humans away from Him (by keeping them unclean), and giving His own sons a compelling choice, which is super important to Him.
The choice isn't just a token idea thrown in there, like the Son choosing the most difficult thing, but it actually not mattering that much since he if he existed as a god then it wouldn't have been difficult to adhere to his own commands for himself. If he existed as a god beforehand, then there is also no way of him being an actual example for the other sons to follow. Since they are only human, the chasm between them and the jesus god is so huge that the example can only ever be another token thing thrown in there to complete their doctrinal statements, even though it makes no real sense to the story or the condition that exists within them.
Just like Adam, the sons of God will need to keep choosing to stay alive by not doing certain things that he tells us are bad for us and lead to death. It is conditional and individual. We are in a relationship with the Lord and the Father (the land), and the New Covenant allows for individual covenants between God and each of His sons, as God had with Adam. That allows Him to speak to them personally and individually, because He knows all the secrets things about us that we keep hidden in our hearts all our lives from the other humans.
It though isn't about the "do not touch, do not taste." It's just that those things are bad and keep us separated from Him and our true brothers. The natural is a hostile world of competition and survival, and we learned to create many walls of defense in order to do that, as do all animals faced with such a dilemma. When the Father comes to a son, He teaches him that he doesn't have to employ those walls of defense any longer, which he put up to try to deal with so much aloneness and grief so he could just survive emotionally the best he could with the resources available to him—the walls he could construct around himself to insulate him from the hostility he recognized in the world where there is no real love.
That's what's going on inside the humans, not that they're "sinners who just need to repent," which always means "be just like us." But why would anyone want to be just like them, because they're just like everyone other dead person, except they have adopted a whitewashed veneer onto themselves, what they learned from their leaders on what to do and how to act. Since modern christianity was created in the era and mode of the Greek and Roman polytheistic atmosphere (many gods, not just one), it's no wonder there's a jesus god, a holy spirit god and a devil god existing alongside the father god. It's also no wonder that trying to adopt it is as awkward and impossible as one trying to study about Apollos, Zeus, Athena and Jupiter and adopting those myths as one's religion, because in reality it's the same thing. In other words, it can only be abstract symbolism and never address what's actually inside, because it never addresses what sin actually is, or what makes one a sinner (as Paul wrote about sin and being a sinner). The truth that Paul knew and wrote about, as impossible as it seems, left the world of the humans and has been gone, so the only options were latching onto myths like christianity.
Nevertheless, I have a few things against you.
Notice how Jesus tells each of the churches what he finds wrong in them. It's not blanket statements for any of the churches, but individually he shows them their faults. Some things will be universal for us—they are obvious because they cause chaos and confusion. He will tell us what we need to do to keep choosing life. If we want, however, to decide for our self what we will choose (like Adam wanting more than what was being offered) then we are saying to him that we want to judge what is good and what is evil and be our own god over our own body of death, which is what leads to "You will surely die."
The voice of our Father speaks to us individually according to the new covenant God can have with His sons, and He tells us what is good and bad for us. Our responsibility is to learn to choose the right, what He has told us; and reject the wrong, what we tell ourselves as per the dictates of our animal nature. It might overlap and be the same for our brother or it might not. That's not important if it does or doesn't. What matters is that He is alive and He speaks to us individually as a good Father would, and we are ultimately responsible to Him—to hear His voice and respond to the living word in us, for us.
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."
We don't need to judge our brother, decide what is best for him or tell him what to do; we only try to point the way to the Father for each other. Judgment is a big part of the animal nature, because the animals constantly need the validation of the other humans around them, to allow them to feel that they are okay. The way to get that is by getting someone else to validate what you believe, and therefore you have that reinforced by what you can see, another human's agreement. That's what the institutions all around us are all about—they don't have the truth, so they have to create a lie, and the way they make the lie into their own relative truth is to get others to agree with them. The more people around them, the more right they must be, according to their lie.
We need to listen to what our Father has told us and worry about that, not about making sure our brother obeys some rules that we have no doubt decided should be followed, just because we crave that egotistical validation. If we think about it, they usually always lead back to our self and what would be better for us, which is a reinforcement that it's evil. If we can encourage our brother to abide in Him then we should do that. God deals with all of us and what we need to learn collectively and individually, as any good father would do for his individual sons.
Some of these writings have been used to vent a certain judgment toward this or that group for some way they may have treated us. There is a fine line between satisfying our own ego requirements and saying what's true. Although some things may have been done and still continue, it's not our part to defend ourselves by deciding what's right and wrong and then declaring judgment, even if we're right. That's difficult, but it's the point of learning that our Father is entirely capable of defending us if He wants to in a real way (not theory), and declaring what is right versus wrong. Because the animal nature is still living in us, then of course we're going to be wrong in our judgments of others, because it dictates to us that we need to have certain things fulfilled for our own sake; it wants to lead us and many times it is successful. We aren't strong or aware enough to choose the right yet, as Jesus was, because we're still being transformed from animal to son. Jesus never became a full-grown, dead (mature, adult) animal because the Father kept him from being taken by it. However, at a certain point, he did have to choose.
A voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
The sons learn to not want or love the lie, and they learn it by suffering in the flesh (learning to deny the instinctual cravings and not give in to the instinctual fears) that leads to obedience, continuing to see that the lie is bad for us over and over until they're able to see the truth. The cravings of the flesh can be intense, but we learn that when we satisfy them it is only a very temporary pleasure, and another one comes in to take its place, then it starts all over again. If we choose Him then He rewards us, and gives us more of His life and the knowledge if Himself in us, which we learn to love more than the easier, temporary things. Those are the easy things because we don't have to wait for our Father to give us the good thing, we can just reach our hand right out and grab what we want, but they're always little pieces of fruit that only have the seed of death in them. If we choose the lie then He gives us over to it and it gives us itself—we will just keep believing it. A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough—a little bit spreads out and infects the whole life.
The reinforcement of the animal nature leads to believing that the lie is true, that there is something we can get apart from what the Father wants to give us, and that we don't have to wait for Him to give it to us. The animal is impetuous and impatiently desires to grab for itself; that is its nature. He gives us rewards for choosing the right, which is how we learn. If we overcome we will be given everything that is promised to those who overcome—the life of God in us, giving us life, teaching us about the Father, revealing Him to us and allowing us to know Him. We will live and know love, because He will raise us up to be responsible sons, to abandon our old nature of self-preservation and self-gratifications, and instead seek His interests and whatever He desires to give us. The prison of self-preservation is unknown to those who are in it; the sons begin to see it as a prison instead of the only option. He knows everything, He decides everything, He makes everything, and He judges everything, all for His own sons' benefit because of love for them.