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Cleansed by Fire (The Last Temptation, 1994)

“Cleansed by Fire” Lyrics:

I don’t know but I’ve been told
The streets of hell are paved with gold
Crazy, crazy
You told me that nothing’s free
Except my own insanity
Crazy, maybe
Wake me, shake me
Wake me, shake me

You offer me the world and all its wealth
All for myself
You promised me a life eternally
And drink to my health
I may seem only half-glued
But I can see right through you

Burn it up, burn it down
Burn this sucker to the ground
Oh yeah, oh yeah
Going, going, going, gone
There’s a party going on

Do you think I don’t know who you are
A fallen star
When I feel my soul scream out at night
I know you’re not far
You need a better disguise
This one won’t win any prize

Burn it up, burn it down
Burn this sucker to the ground
Oh yeah, oh yeah
Going, going, going, gone
There’s a party going on

Cleansed by fire, cleansed by fire
I may seem only half-glued
But I can see right through you

What about dark
What about light
What about wrong
What about right
What about death
What about sin
What about the web you’re trying to spin

What about truth, What about life
What about glory, What about Christ
What about peace, What about love

What about faith in God above
What about war, What about hell
What if I stumble, What if I fell
What about blood
What about greed
And all of these things you’re offering me

Yeah, what about me, little me
You lose and I win
You couldn’t suck me in

It’s over, you have no power
You’re lost
And I’m found
And I’m Heaven bound
Go back to where you belong
To where you fell
Go to hell

The Last Temptation LP, released in 1994, is a concept album that tells the story of a modern-day teenage version of Cooper’s beloved character, Steven. He finds himself confronted by a mysterious figure named the Showman – a character who offers Steven the things this world has to offer – power, money, women, rebellion, etc.

As the album unfolds (track after track), it becomes evident that the Showman is an agent of evil (if not Satan, himself).  Overall, the album deals with the trials, temptations, decisions, and other avenues one might face in life while discussing the tactics used by the enemy.

“The bottom line of this album is to say that life isn’t cheap. Life seems to be really cheap right now. There’s a real defeatist attitude out there today. Alice never promoted anything defeatist. Alice always made fun of death, sex, and money. But I never promoted it; I never said this is the way to get out of this life. I’ve always been pro-life.” – Alice Cooper

As the album spins, there is a “Jesus in the Wilderness” narrative that becomes evident. A forty days of temptation and personal reflection capped off with a directive soft of vibe – a command for darkness to flee and go back to where it belongs.

Cleansed by Fire” is the final track on the LP. It brings Steven to a crossroads in his life. Will he accept what the Showman is offering him, or walk away – choosing a life more extraordinary than the things on this earth?

While we’ve never seen an interview with Alice directly stating this, one interpretation of the song might be attributed to many different verses in the Bible referencing fire.  Scriptures that deal with deliverance from our enemies and what has been defined as the “Refiner’s Fire.”

Cleansed by fire, cleansed by fire
I may seem only half-glued
But I can see right through you

What about dark
What about light
What about wrong
What about right
What about death
What about sin
What about the web you’re trying to spin
What about truth
What about life
What about glory
What about Christ
What about peace
What about love
What about faith in God above
What about war
What about hell
What if I stumble
What if I fell
What about blood
What about greed
And all of these things you’re offering me

Yeah, what about me
Little me
You lose, I win
You couldn’t suck me in
It’s over; you have no power
You’re lost
And I’m found
And I’m, I’m Heaven bound
Go back to where you belong
To where you fell
Go to hell

Throughout the album and this song, we find Steven slowly figuring out the showman’s motives, identity, and plans – ultimately, choosing to escape from the enemy and accepting the Lord.

Steven chooses to walk in faith. He gains victory and freedom through Christ. He is propelled towards Heaven, and the enemy (along with his lies, threats, and temptations) is thwarted.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.James 4:7

James, Christ’s half-brother, explains that when we submit to God.  The Holy Spirit gives us the power to resist Satan’s attacks causing the enemy to flee.

James goes on to give five ways in which we can draw nearer to God:

    1. Submission to His Will (yielding to His authority, committing our lives to Him and His control, showing a willingness to follow him.
    2. Resisting the Devil (ignoring Satan’s attempts to entice and tempt you)
    3. Washing our hands and purifying our hearts (replacing our desire to sin with a desire instead to experience God’s purity)
    4. Grieve and mourn in sincere sorrow for your sins (we should be willing to express deep, genuine sorrow for our sins)
    5. Humble yourselves before the Lord (He, in turn, will lift us up, honoring our walks with Him)

It may seem as if Steven’s trials and struggles are unnecessary, but he learns more about himself, the darkness, and insight into God’s Truth through them.

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  –1 Peter 4:12-13

In the above-listed verses, we find Peter rejoicing at the chance to take on life’s trials head-on and celebrating the glory that is given to us when choosing Christ instead of the world.

Peter goes on to talk about continually doing good in the eyes of God – knowing that the ramifications on this earth will, at times, lead to suffering, pain, loss, etc. but will ultimately bring us closer to God in the process.

Peter affirms that the Holy Spirit will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us through our trials and sufferings.

Wrapping up this post, the song is not only powerful lyrically but also musically. The melodic yet dark tone leaves one a little unsure as to where it’s going to go.

However, when the drums kick in during the “Wake me, shake me” lines of the song – it’s as if an awakening occurs.  As if Christ has been accepted and the Holy Spirit now dwells within the soul of the person singing.

With eyes wide open, the believer learns to rely on the Holy Spirit and ask pertinent questions about faith, God, and the deeper, more substantial aspects of life – delivering the believer from the bonds of sin and death.

In conclusion, this may be the most underrated LP in Alice’s catalog. Many cherish it, but many still don’t see its value. It’s interesting to see how it fairs among many fan discussions and top Alice Cooper album listings.

While many LPs, such as Killer, Love It To Death, and Billion Dollar Babies remain steadily ranked within the top 5 by most fans, the love for The Last Temptation LP seems a bit more sporadic. Whatever the reasoning for the appeal or loathing of The Last Temptation LP, there is no denying the concept – it’s brilliant.

“After a titanic struggle, Steven has won the battle for his soul: “You lose, I win – you couldn’t suck me in.” Triumphant, he demands that the Showman go back to hell, because “I’m Heaven bound – go back to where you belong.” A church bell rings out poignantly at the end, while the final vocal line, “Go to hell!” provides a nostalgic moment for Alice Cooper fans because almost twenty years earlier, in Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, it had been he who was seemingly destined to make that journey. On The Last Temptation, such a notion was completely erased.” – Ian Chapman, Experiencing Alice Cooper: A Listener’s Companion

As Chapman points out, the notion of Steven’s soul being damned to hell is thwarted by “Cleansed by Fire.” However, it was Steven’s realization and free will that ultimately brought him to redemption. Steven made a choice. As Alice has often stated, “it’s about good and evil – DON’T CHOOSE EVIL!” Let us all heed those words.

That’s it for this week, catch you next Friday!

Until then, keep Walkin’ in Faith and Rockin’ with Alice!

A few other Scripture references:

Deliverance:  1 John 4:4, 5:4-5 – Galatians 5:1 – Psalms 32:7, 34:4, 34:17, 91, 107:6 – Isaiah 43:18-19 – 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

Refiners Fire:  1 Peter 1:7, Isaiah 48:10, Job 23:10, 1 Peter 5:10, Revelation 3:18, 1 Corinthians 3:13, Daniel 12:10

Have you accepted Christ as your Savior?

If you would like to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please pray the following prayer:

"God, I believe in you and your son Jesus Christ.  I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save me. Today, I invite Jesus into my heart to stay.  I make you Lord over my life. Make me new. Wash me, Lord, and cleanse me. In Jesus Name, Amen"

If you have just prayed that prayer, we want to celebrate your new victory with you.  Please contact us at prayers@oceanfloorministries.com so we can welcome you into the kingdom.  We don't want you to have to walk alone and we have some resources we would like the opportunity to share with you.

Have you accepted Christ as your Savior?

If you would like to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please pray the following prayer:

"God, I believe in you and your son Jesus Christ.  I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to save me. Today, I invite Jesus into my heart to stay.  I make you Lord over my life. Make me new. Wash me, Lord, and cleanse me. In Jesus Name, Amen"

If you have just prayed that prayer, we want to celebrate your new victory with you.  Please contact us at prayers@oceanfloorministries.com so we can welcome you into the kingdom.  We don't want you to have to walk alone and we have some resources we would like the opportunity to share with you.

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