There is an overarching verse in the last book of the Bible that sums up the end of this present age and the beginning of the Lord's eternal reign:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.” - Revelations 11:15
If there are spoilers in movies we haven't watched, this is the biggest spoiler of all. JESUS wins and the enemy is defeated forevermore. We already know the ending. The only decision we have to make is which side do we belong to? In this spiritual warfare, there are 2 kingdoms involved - The kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world (under Satan's influence) and JESUS came to fulfil that Revelations 11:15 promise.
As we continue our series on the topic of spiritual warfare, it is imperative that we understand the concept of the KINGDOM of GOD.
What is the Kingdom of God?
The kingdom of God is the rule of God over his people in his creation, established through his Messiah in the new covenant, which is now present in the world, though it is awaiting its fulfilment at the second coming of Christ.
As we wait for His return, here in this present age, there is spiritual warfare that's being waged. But we have to remember that the battles the Lord's and those who are in Him are already on the winning side and we are instructed to stand firm (Ephesians 6:10-18). Scriptures tell us that Jesus has come to overthrow the enemy and destroy his works.
“The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil.” - 1 John 3:8
“Christ took on human nature that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” - Hebrews 2:14
“God disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him.” In other words, the decisive blow was struck at Calvary." - Colossians 2:15
“The devil will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone . . . and will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” - Revelations 20:10
Revelations 12:10-12 tells us that the enemy is full of fury because he knows that his time is short. And in this short time that he has, he is working relentlessly to deceive as many as he can, to keep as many as he can from the saving knowledge of the Lord, and bring as many as he can to damnation. He does this by using the systems of this world and to tempt the sinful desires of the flesh:
Our Enemies in this War
We have three conspiring enemies in this warfare: the world, the flesh, and the devil.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world [the world] and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient [the devil]. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts [the flesh]. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath (Eph. 2:1-3).
These three enemies have a particular relationship to one another in their warfare against us. THE DEVIL, that serpent of old, is “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). As such, he governs the world system in an effort to hide the truth about God:
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 Jn 5:19).
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4).
THE WORLD, under the sway of the evil one, is a system of thoughts, values, ideas, and actions that express real hostility toward and rejection of God and God’s people. The world is irreconcilable to God–so much so that to embrace the ways of the world is to join the world in hostility toward God.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man hwo does the will of God lives forever (1 Jn 2:15-17).
THE FLESH. So, Satan has distorted and sabotaged the world God made, inventing a system that remains intractably hostile toward the Creator. How does the world join the assault against the Christian? Well, the world attacks by conspiring with and beguiling the Christian’s flesh, the sinful desires and thoughts that remain in the Christian. Satan also governs the world to make an attack on the Christian through their flesh in a lot of ways. By God’s grace, we are not ignorant of the enemy’s devices. Satan uses the world to strengthen our conspiring flesh so that we might neglect to live in/by the Spirit of God:
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature [the flesh], God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (Rom. 8:3-8).
The enemy also uses the world to blind us to the fact that our sin nature is the root cause of our sin and temptation:
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot tempt anyone; but 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 (James 1:13-15).
How do we fight back?
I offer four key resolves for our warfare:
First, as we have discussed in the previous weeks, TAKE YOUR STAND AGAINST THE DEVIL:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. …Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm, then… (Eph. 6:10-11, 13-14).
Second, since the world is the playground of the enemy and he has setup structural evils in it to conspire with our flesh against God, we must CULTIVATE A HOLY HATRED AGAINST THE WORLD SYSTEMS.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom. 12:2).
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).
Third, since our own desires and thoughts are the battleground of this warfare, we must PUT OUR FLESH TO DEATH.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom. 8:12-14).
A dead flesh cannot be a tempting flesh. We must constantly mortify the flesh and renew our minds and affections for God.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)
...knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin… (Romans 6:6)
This has proven to be one of the most difficult part of God's Call in a Christian's life - self-denial. The discipline it takes to be a true follower of JESUS and the test of genuine faith is death to self. Of course, all of this is only possible if Christ Jesus the Son of God is our Victor and our hope is in Him who crushed the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15), who brought judgment against the world and drove out its prince (John 12:31), and by His Spirit crucifies our flesh (Rom. 8:13; 2 Pet. 1:4).
The basic strategy for our warfare:
1. Resist the devil.
2. Do not conform with the world.
3. Kill the flesh.
4. Serve the Lord
You cannot just overcome the enemy doing nothing. God has called us to serve Him. The reality is if we are not serving Him; we are serving something or someone else. We have the tendency to serve the world, serve our flesh or worse the enemy if we are not going to have a resolve to serve the LORD.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
The KINGDOM of GOD is ADVANCING 1 SOUL AT A TIME.
The reality is Satan’s Kingdom - the kingdom of this world - is diminishing and God’s Kingdom is Advancing! What frightens demons is when people’s eyes are opened and they begin to see and understand GOD”s LOVE via JESUS our SAVIOUR and LORD and they begin to submit their lives to His will and plan and purpose.
In recent years, the number of Chinese Christians has increased significantly; Christians were 4 million before 1949, and are reaching 67 million today, Christianity is reportedly the fastest-growing religion in China with an average annual rate of 7%. In Iran 370,000 were conservatively recorded in December of 2014. In 2020 it is approaching 1 Million with an average annual rate of 5.2% conversions. Here in Australia, 23.1% said they are Christians. But the mission field is still vast - 30% out of 25 million says they have “No belief” or are atheists. The harvest is plenty but the workers are few (Matthew 9:35-38).
The Mission of Our Church is directly linked to the mandate of Christ to move the Kingdom of God forward. Every act of service you do for the church, every person you invite has the potential to advance the kingdom of God and have the eyes of people opened to the Truth of God’s Word that will set them free and transfer them from the dominion of darkness to the Kingdom of God’s Son.
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” - Luke 17:20-21
In other words, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS IN YOU! And it is not meant to be hidden or kept away but for it to SHINE and BE PROCLAIMED so that the Kingdom of God may continue to advance through us to others we can win for Christ!
Do we want to be victorious in this Spiritual Warfare? Then let's be a Soul Winner! Be a Discipler! Let us serve the Lord!
QUESTIONS for DISCUSSION:
1. What have you been learning about our month series so far?
2. What is your understanding of the "Kingdom of God"?
3. What are the three enemies discussed last Sunday?
4. How does each of these enemies affect us in our walk with God?
5. What are the 4 basic resolves/strategies discussed and how can we apply them in our lives?
6. What is "death to self" or "killing the flesh" or "self-denial"; and why is it vital in following Christ?
7. Discuss Titus 2:11-14. Define "Serving the Lord" versus "Serving the world"? Worldliness versus Godliness?