Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

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Chapter 10 - The Course of This World

In the world of conflict and turmoil which we constantly see, the primary battle is not in the material world which we understand, but in the spirit world which we do not sense with our sensory perceptions.

Ephesians 6:12 states, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (i.e. above the time/space/material world, the world of the spiritual)". Again, in I John 5:19 it says, "And we know we are of God, and the whole world lies in the lap of the wicked one". This conveys the idea that the world is under the control of Satan. God has allowed mankind, of his own free will, to exercise his self-centeredness to the extent that Satan has brought the world under his control, by catering to mankind's selfishness.

In Luke 4:1-13 it is seen that Satan even tried to bring Christ under his control, by playing upon Jesus' human vulnerability, when He was tired and hungry. Satan tempted Jesus in three ways, each designed to allow Satan to gain control over Him. Jesus rebuked Satan at every turn, yet Satan continued to tempt Jesus through using the Pharisees, the Roman government, etc. throughout the public ministry of Christ.

Over the period of time in the history of mankind, we see the course of the world as antagonistic to the purpose for which Jesus Christ came into the world.

I. The Purpose For Which Christ Came - In Hebrews 2:14,15 we understand that since sin was committed in the realm of "Flesh and blood", that Christ came into this realm to meet sin head on and conquer it. Satan introduced sin into the realm of mankind, through deception of Adam/Eve in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, God sent Jesus Christ into the human realm to deal with sin in that realm.

Negatively, I John 3:8 tells us that Christ, "Was manifested that He might destroy the works of the Devil". This He did when God resurrected Jesus from the grave. Mankind's sins caused Christ to die; Satan tried to keep Him in the grave, hoping to overcome Jesus and what He had done in caring for mankind's sins. The moment He arose from the grave, it forever sealed the doom of Satan. Today, Satan is living on "borrowed time", awaiting judgment.

Positively, in II Corinthians 4:4-6 it tells us that God sent Jesus Christ, "To give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ". He came into our time/space/material world to be a reflection of the Godhead, so that we who live in the confines of this world could comprehend the Godhead, who doesn't exist within our framework of knowing.

II. The Philosophy of Mankind - Since all humans operate on a personal philosophy or worldview, it is important to understand the Biblical view of mankind's philosophy of life.

Basically, all mankind begins with a self centered nature, which is separate from God, and diametrically opposed to God's control. This is seen in God's dealings with Israel as stated by the Prophet Jeremiah 22:21, when God spoke to Israel saying, "I spoke unto you in your prosperity; but you said, I will not hear. This has been your manner from your youth, that you have not obeyed my voice".

Again, this refers back to the Garden of Eden, when Satan deceived Adam/Eve to turn from listening to God, and instead exercising their own selfish desires. In Genesis 3:6 this selfishness is well evidenced when they saw the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, prohibited by God from eating, to be "Good for food" (i.e. the lust of the flesh), "Pleasant to the eyes" (i.e. the lust of the eyes), and "Desired to make one wise" (i.e. the pride of life), they ate and thereby incurred sin, not only for themselves, but for all humanity (Romans 5:12). Note the contrast of a God centered life as seen in I John 2:15-17.

Isaiah 29:13 is an excellent illustration of mankind's religious external ritual of the worship of God, with an inward hypocrisy of the heart: "The Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is learned by rote". Much of religious worship is just going through ritualistic and liturgical motions, as seen in the constant recital of the Lord's prayer, without a heart of Love for the Lord Jesus Christ. This is Satan's philosophy riveted upon mankind for deception. This is the course of this world.

III. The Present Condition of the World - The New Testament, though written two thousand years ago, is an excellent commentary on the present condition of the world today. In II Timothy 3:1-7 we have a litany of things that engulf the self-centeredness of mankind, in an ever increasing fashion. It is basically that of self love. In II Peter 2:10-14 there is presented an outline of the anarchy that is fast overtaking mankind today. Then. II Peter 3:3-9 points out the retribution of God's coming judgment because of mankind's sins.

II Peter 2:4-9 speaks to three historical first occurrence events of God's judgment on the world, to say to us today that the "Fire" of God's coming judgment on the earth is a sure thing. Ezekiel 16:49,50 tells of God's judgment on Sodom/Gomorrah, which elements are seen in the world in which we live, and just as God took them away, He will judge the world of iniquity today.

Conclusion: The Christian's response to the self centerd philosophy of the world is found in I Peter 2:11-15. He tells us that our manner of life should be honest, exercise good works, be submissive to the laws of the land for the Lord's sake, give honor to others, love fellow Christians, honor the Lord Jesus Christ, and honor our leaders in government. We are not to use the liberty we have in Christ to be a cover up for evil.

Finally, in II Timothy 3:12-17, we note that as evil progresses Christians will suffer persecution more and more. Our response is stated clearly: we are to continue to abide by the Word of God, to not be deceived by evil people, and allow the Scriptures to be our guide and strength. Trust our Heavenly Father who is sovereign and in control.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.
What more can He say than to you He has said,
To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand.

When through the fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall by thy supply;
The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake.

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