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Tape No. I-4144Page
Part 2 – The World that Satan Rules
Now I’m continuing this morning with a theme that I started on Thursday evening. How many of you were not here Thursday evening, would you let me see your hands? Well, you missed something. Anyhow, I’ll try and fill you in a little. It’s the first time I’ve ever preached the message that I brought on Thursday evening, this is a new theme for me. And it’s my answer to my own searching as to what’s wrong with the church. Why aren’t we what we ought to be? Why aren’t we doing what we’re supposed to be doing? Why don’t we live up to all the wonderful words we sing? Somebody said, you know, it’s just as much a sin to sing a lie as it is to tell a lie!
In the old days when I was a pastor I used to see people singing “All To Jesus I Surrender” and putting sixpence in the offering. I thought, they’re liars. Sixpence is the equivalent of about 25 cents in America. We are not what we claim to be. It may not be that we’re deliberately hypocritical but the fact is there’s something missing somewhere.
I’ve been burdened about this more and more for quite a long period. I feel that God has given me a key to understand. It doesn’t solve the problem but it shows us, I believe, where to find the solution.
The title that I’ve chosen for this theme is “The World, the Cross and the Church.” And in my first message I dealt with the theme of “Delivered From this Present Evil Age” which is what Paul says in Galatians 1:4, that Christ might deliver us from this present evil age. I made a number of statements about the way the Bible pictures the age or the ages. And in order to help us, not only those who were not here but those who were here, I’m going to read out the successive statements in my outline without any comment.
God through Jesus brought the ages into being.
Ages are made up of generations.
There are ages of ages. That’s the longest time phrase in the Bible, to the ages of the ages.
Jesus came as Savior at the consummation of the ages.
The ends of the ages have come upon us.
The present age is coming to a close.
The name of Jesus is supreme in this and the next age.
Satan is the God of the present age.
Consequently, the present age is evil. Through Jesus, believers are delivered from the present age.
Through the Holy Spirit believers taste the powers of the next age.
The present age causes worries that make believers unfruitful.
Believers must not be conformed to the present age.
And a faithful servant of Christ cannot love the present age. We finished with the example of Demas who abandoned Paul in prison because he loved the present age.
Today, both this morning and this evening, I’m going to talk about the other related word which is translated in the New Testament world. I told you that the word for age is eon which is the same word in English, just taken over from Greek. The word for world in the New Testament is cosmos. The original meaning of that word was beauty or order. But it’s gone through a lot of stages and its meaning in the New Testament is not that. It does not mean the earth, it doesn’t mean the universe, it means a certain social world order that is temporary. That’s the way the word world is used in the New Testament. If you don’t understand that you won’t understand a lot of things the New Testament says about not loving the world, et cetera. That doesn’t mean we’re not to love God’s creation, that doesn’t mean we’re not to love people, but it means that there is a certain world system that we are not to love. Because it’s the total enemy of God. If we love God’s enemies we’re traitors to God.
Just to illustrate this, 2Peter 2:5:
“God did not spare the ancient world but saved Noah, one of eight people, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly. [Now it says also in chapter 3, verse 6 of the flood:] By which [that’s the flood] the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.”
So what perished was the world order of the day of Noah. It wasn’t the earth that remained, it was a certain social system which was called the world. It was replaced by the present social system, the world order. And that’s what the Bible talks about when it says the world. You need to understand that.
Now I’m going to make a number of statements about cosmos or the world similar to those which I made about the present age. Understand, they’re very closely related because in the present age the world order is such that it reflects the character of the present age. I hope you understood that.
Through man’s fall Satan has become the ruler of this world. He’s not the ruler of the universe, he’s not even the ruler of the globe he’s the ruler of the present social world order. That’s what we’re talking about. Jesus himself gives this title to Satan three times in the book of John. John 12:31:
“Now is the judgment of this world, now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
Who is the ruler of this world? Satan. If you want further confirmation—we won’t turn there—Jesus used the same phrase in John 14:30 and in John 16:11. Three times he calls Satan the ruler of this world. The last time he says the ruler of this world is coming and has nothing in me. That’s the secret of his victory. Satan cannot defeat anybody from outside. He always defeats people from within. He could not defeat Jesus because Jesus said he has nothing in me. If you and I can say the same, he has nothing in me, we are undefeatable.
How many of you have heard the phrase the fifth column? Well, those of you are probably fairly well up in years. It was a very much used phrase before and during World War II. And it’s very illuminating so I’ll tell you how it originated. In l936 there was a civil war in Spain which eventually brought Franco to power. In the course of this civil war the Spaniards were fighting one another. There was a certain Spanish general on one side attacking a Spanish city. Another general came to him and said, General, what is your plan to take the city? The first general said I have four columns advancing on the city; one from the north, one from the east, one from the south and one from the west. Then he paused and he said but it’s my fifth column I’m expecting to take the city for me. So the second general said where is your fifth column? And the first general said inside the city. Traitors who would ultimately undermine the defense. That’s how Satan defeats the church. Never from without, always he has to have a fifth column. That’s how he defeats the individual. Never from without. But if we cannot say he has nothing in me, we are in danger. Remember, he’s the ruler of the present world order.
I have to say I believe if Christians really grasped that fact it would tremendously affect the whole way they lived. I think it’s the fact that this has been obscured that makes the church in so many ways so ineffective.
The next statement, there’s going to be a series of them, Satan controls the world through deception. If he couldn’t deceive, he couldn’t control. If we are not deceived, we will not be controlled. 1John 5:19 makes a most remarkable statement. It’s one of those breathtaking statements that are in such short, simple words that sometimes I don’t think we take them in.
“We know [the problem is honestly most of us don’t know. That’s the truth of the matter.] that we are of God and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”
Now under the sway of is put in by this translation. It says literally in the Greek: The whole world lies in the wicked one. He has the whole world in his grasp. Now I know there’s a song about the Lord has the whole world in his hands. I don’t think, in a sense, that’s very scripturally phrased. It’s Satan who has the world in his grasp. I mean, the Lord is supreme over Satan and over everything but actually if you want to know who is controlling the world, the answer is the devil. That’s a shocking statement, isn’t it? Did we know that or are we just discovering it?
Then in Revelation 12:9 it says, and this is speaking about an event which I believe to be future. In fact, this is what the church is ultimately going to have to do to the devil. It’s exciting, I’d like to deal with it but I’m not going to go into it.
“So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old called the devil and Satan [that’s the fullest description of him in any one verse of the Bible] who deceived the whole world.”
Now the Greek word for world there is not cosmos but it means the inhabited globe. But the truth is the same. Satan deceives the whole world.
When I came face to face with these facts and I had known them in a way, but I never really absorbed them, they shocked me. I felt a little bit like Daniel. I don’t say I was like Daniel but when Daniel got a certain revelation of the antichrist, he was sick for several days. When he got a real revelation of what Satan can do, his physical strength couldn’t stand it. I’m not afraid of the devil, I’m not going to uplift the devil, believe me. I think I’m going to be able to show you just what a nasty character he is. Oral Roberts used to say—and I rather wish he still went on saying it—God is totally good, there is no badness in God. The devil is totally bad, there’s no goodness in the devil. We need to see that. There’s no little shades of black and white. It’s totally black or totally white.
Now then, Satan rules over all rebels. That’s a shocking statement. All those who are in rebellion against God are under the dominion of Satan. They have no option. You don’t have to vote for Satan. All you have to do is vote against God. The moment you do that, and you don’t have to do it out loud but in your heart, “God, I’m going to go my own way. Your requirements are too severe. I want to have a little fun in life. I want to enjoy myself. I want to taste some of the pleasures of life. I’m going my own way.” You know what you’re doing? You’re voting for Satan to be your ruler. Let’s look in Ephesians 2 for a moment. Verses 1–3:
“And you [that’s believers in Christ] God made alive when you were dead in trespasses and sins...”
Not physically dead but spiritually dead. Dead to God, cut off from the life in God.
“...in which you once walked according to the course of this world...”
Now that’s very interesting because it says literally the age of this world. Both words are put together there.
“...according to the ruler of the power of the air [who is that? Satan] the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience [or rebellion].”
So Satan is the ruler of the realm of authority that is defined by the air. Ephesians 6:12 says we are wrestling against rulers with authority, spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies. That’s the opposition. But Satan is the supreme ruler and his area of authority is the air. Now there are two Greek words for air, one gives us the English word ether, the other gives us the English word air. The difference is that ether is the upper rarefied atmosphere. Air is the lower air contiguous with the earth’s surface. The word used here is air. Satan is the ruler of the realm of authority that takes in the whole surface of the earth. Let’s go on reading.
“...among whom also we all once conducted ourselves.”
There are no exceptions. Even the apostles were not exceptions.
“We all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh [our old unregenerate nature], fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.”
That’s what we call biblically natural man, unregenerate man. Man who has not been transformed by the grace of God. He’s under the dominion of Satan, a spiritual force that works in him because he’s a rebel. It works in him through his lusts, through his uncontrolled desires. It works in him through the desires of his fleshly nature and of his mind. Bear in mind that the enmity of unregenerate man is just as strong in his mind as it is in his body. In fact, Paul says in Romans 8 the carnal mind is enmity against God. That’s another shocking statement. You know what most of our seminaries are doing? They’re carefully and expensively educating the enemies of God. That’s why the seminaries produce more antichrists than any other single source. Is that true? Unfortunately it’s true.
I remember Dennis Bennett, whom I used to know. He said when he first went to this seminary in Chicago that was going to train him to be an Episcopal priest, the first lecturer who appeared said, “I just want to begin by telling you all I’m an atheist.” If you don’t know anything about the inside of seminaries you have not seen something shocking.
I was a missionary in East Africa amongst other places. You know one of the problems of missionaries? We’ve trained so many times we’re enemies of the cross. We’ve taken the bright, the prospective, the ones that can do well in school and we’ve trained that carnal mind. And what do they do? They turn the missionaries out. Do you see the implications of what I’m telling you are so far reaching they go in every direction of human life.
We haven’t finished verse 3 yet. We were by nature children or wrath. Even that pretty little baby that’s just been born into your home. You know what it is by nature? A child of wrath. Why? Because it has inside a proneness to disobedience. It’s got a rebel’s nature inside. Now I’m not saying of a little infant that if it dies it goes to hell. I don’t believe that because it’s innocent. But there’s that in it. You let that sweet little girl get to about two years old and watch mama say come here. And what’s the first thing it does? Turn in the opposite direction. That’s not an accident. That is the revelation of what’s inside. That’s why parents have the responsibility to deal with that. The earlier you deal with it the better.
But we were all by nature children of God’s wrath because we were children of disobedience. We had one ancestor who was disobedient. Do you know what the name was? Adam. Adam never had any children until he was a rebel. Every son and daughter of Adam was born with a rebel nature inside. And when that rebel nature causes them to act rebelliously, they become under the dominion of Satan.
There’s one phrase—there are some things in the Bible that really appeal to me. I mean, the Bible is an economical book. But in Job 41 you have a complete chapter devoted to a creature called Leviathan. Have you ever pondered on that? I don’t know that I know exactly what Leviathan is although I do believe there is a kind of sea monster that will appear in due course. But, one thing I do know is Leviathan is a picture of Satan. That’s really why he gets the whole chapter. You study this. One of the things it says is you cannot make a covenant with him. And brothers and sisters, never try to make a covenant with Satan, he’s too smart. He’ll always cheat you. But the last statement in the chapter, chapter 41, verse 34:
“He [Leviathan] beholds every high thing. He is king over all the children of pride.”
So all proud people have a king, they may not know it. His name is Leviathan which is an alias of Satan. The moment you say I know best, I can make my own way through life, I can handle this situation. I don’t want to depend on God. You voted Leviathan to be your king. That’s the condition of the world.
Satan claims to control the kingdoms or governments of the world. Turn to Luke 4:5–7. This is part of the temptation of Jesus.
“Then the devil taking him up on a high mountain showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.”
That’s a remarkable thought, isn’t it?
“The devil said to him, All this authority I will give you and their glory; for this has been delivered to me and I give it to whomsoever I wish.”
Now, the devil is a liar. You can’t believe everything he says. But you can believe that he claims to dispose of all earthly government. Fervently, that’s his ambition. I do believe the church by its prayer can set limits to the claim of Satan. But bear in mind that’s what he claims. And he said all this has been delivered to me. The word there is the same word that’s used of Judas betraying Jesus to the rulers of the Jews. All this has been betrayed to me. Who betrayed it to him? Who is responsible for handing over the rule of the earth? Adam, that’s right. He betrayed God, he sided with Satan and Satan took over the authority originally assigned by God to Adam. So he claims to control all kingdoms and governments. And he certainly does control most of them.
Now, having said all that we come to the good news in a very familiar verse. It’s probably known to almost everybody here, John 3:16.
“God so loved the world that he gave his Son...”
God loves the world and gave Jesus to die for it. Now if we focus only on the evil of the world and the activity of Satan, we’re going to get a very unchristian view. In spite of all the evil in the world, all its rebellion, all its pride, all its arrogance, God loves the world. Let’s just say those four words. God loves the world. Aren’t you glad he does? You know, I think the hardest people to love are proud people. We are so arrogant. I marvel that God could ever love me. I really do. I’ve never been able to understand it, I’ve just had to believe it. If we don’t grasp that fact we’ll be out of line with all of God’s purpose. He loves the world. He had every right to banish the world to destruction in a moment. Away with this crowd of rebels. Why should I waste more time on them? If you and I had been in God’s place we’d probably done that. Sometimes we still take that attitude, don’t we? It’s not God’s attitude.
The next statement. The cross was God’s judgment on Satan and the world. Now that’s an amazing statement. I’ll show you a couple of scriptures. John 12:31–32. We have already looked at those words but we’ll look at them again. Jesus says:
“Now is the judgment of this world. [He’s speaking about his impending crucifixion.] Now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
Who is the ruler of this world? Satan. What did the cross do? Terminated his claims, set a boundary.
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
So it’s very clear Jesus is speaking about the cross. You see, Satan thought he was getting Jesus crucified. That’s the biggest mistake he ever made. If there’s one thing he could have changed, that would be it. Though Jesus suffered on the cross, it was the judgment of Satan and the world that came upon him. Understand? He was suffering in the place of the guilty. And when you look at the cross bear in mind that God is totally just. What you’re looking at is the due punishment of the world. That’s what the world should endure. But, the punishment came upon Jesus.
Bear in mind something else very important. Romans 6:6 says:
“Our old man was crucified with him.”
When you look at the cross you’re looking at God’s estimate of your unregenerate nature. And there is not one good thing in it. Paul says in Romans 7, “I know that in me [that is in my flesh] dwells no good thing.” The difference between Paul and some of us is Paul knew it, we don’t. That’s the only difference. I cannot emphasize that too strongly. The cross is the just judgment of God upon this world and upon our carnal nature. The mercy of God is that it took place in Jesus. But when Jesus was crucified, that was the judgment of God. And by that Satan’s territory had a boundary set to it. I tell people the cross is God’s red stop sign. And when Satan is driving up against you, he sees that red sign, he slams on his brakes and squeals to a stop because he cannot get beyond the cross.
You are safe when you live on the right side of the cross. How many of you are living there? Not many. You say how do you know? I don’t. But I know the church. And I know me. Understand, this is the way out. This is the emergency exit. This is the way of escape.
Let’s look in John 16:11 too. It says:
“When the Holy Spirit comes he will convict the world of sin, of righteousness of judgment...”
And then in verse 11 he says of judgment:
“...because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Who is the ruler of this world? Satan. That’s God’s estimate of Satan. It’s God’s estimate of the world and it’s God’s estimate of our carnal nature. Bear in mind there’s no injustice with God. It was the just penalty.
Now again the good news, the cross resulted in Satan’s total defeat. Through the cross God administered to Satan a total eternal, irreversible defeat. I’m going to say that again. The defeat of Satan through the cross was total, it was eternal, it was irreversible. Satan can never do anything to change the fact that he was totally defeated. If you are going to get into spiritual warfare, which many of us need to, brothers and sisters, don’t go in until you know what was accomplished by the cross. That’s your safety.
Let’s turn to Colossians 2. Does anybody have a NIV that I can borrow for a moment? Thank you, Jay, how could I do without you! Colossians 2:13–15:
“And you being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh...”
Your carnal nature. That’s the same truth as in Ephesians 2:1–3. We were all dead spiritually.
“God [and it’s God the Father] has made alive together with him [Jesus the Son] having forgiven you all trespasses [or transgressions or sins] having wiped out the handwriting requirements that was against us which was contrary to us, and he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. [verse 15] In doing this he disarmed principalities and powers [who are the principalities and powers? the rulers of the Satanic kingdom, Satan and his rulers.] and he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [the cross].”
So the cross stripped Satan of all his weapons, put him to an open defeat and made a public display of him. We need to know that. Who’s the person who is going to try to keep us ignorant of that? Why? Because as long as we’re ignorant he doesn’t have to bear the consequences. So he’s going to do everything he can to keep the church ignorant of what was accomplished by the cross.
Let me just say this by the way. I’ve got to the point where I never preach without quoting Galatians 3:1.
“O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you...”
Spirit filled Christians experiencing miracles but bewitched. How does Paul know they’re bewitched? Because the rest of the verse says:
“...before whose eyes Jesus Christ was evidently set forth, crucified among you.”
What has witchcraft done? Blinded them to the cross. That’s its number one objective because once we lose sight of the cross we’re playthings for Satan. The only way we can have victory is through knowing what was accomplished by the cross.
Now let’s turn back to Colossians 2. I’ll read the whole scripture, 13–15.
“When you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins having canceled the written code with its regulation that was against us and that stood opposed to us. He took it away, nailing it to the cross.”
Now I like that translation. What was the written code with its regulations? The law. The law. If you don’t realize that you aren’t out of Satan’s territory. If you study Galatians you’ll find that because they’d lost sight of the cross they went back under the law. And Paul said how can you be so stupid having begun in the Spirit are you now being made perfect by the flesh? But that’s what happens with all Christians who lose sight of the cross. That’s the history of the church. It’s the history of almost every denomination in the church. They began in the Spirit, lost sight of the cross, ceased to believe in the supernatural and went back under a system of regulations and rules. And we’re so spiritual we say we’re not under the law of Moses and then we make our own silly little laws. The Baptists have one set, the Pentecostals have another, the Catholics have another. No set of laws can make you righteous with God. Christianity is not a set of rules. It’s a personal relationship with the Lord.
But you see, really, honestly I think 95 percent of American Christians are not aware of that. Why? Because witchcraft has obscured the cross. Once you lose sight of the cross, you’ve lost everything really. You’ve not lost your salvation but experientially you cannot enjoy what God has provided for you.
Now, I want to point out to you very simply how the cross has accomplished Satan’s defeat. Two very simple facts. First of all, it made provision for the past. Second, it made provision for the future. Now the whole issue between God and us is how can we be righteous. God can only bless the righteous. So if we’re going to qualify for God’s blessings we have to achieve righteousness.
Now the message of the gospel is you cannot achieve righteousness by keeping a set of rules. God has written it off. Romans 10:4, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Protestant, Catholic, Gentile, Jew—it doesn’t make any difference. Christ is not the end of the law as part of the word of God or part of the history of Israel or part of Israel’s culture or as a revelation of the wisdom of God. But he’s the end of the law for righteousness. And if we try to achieve righteousness by keeping a set of rules we are telling Jesus you died in vain. You didn’t need to die. It’s a terrible thing to do.
Through the death of Jesus God made provision for the past. All our past sins are forgiven. How many? All. You see, if even one wasn’t forgiven you couldn’t make it. All our sins are forgiven. Shall we say that? All our sins are forgiven. And that’s not enough. You can have your sins forgiven and still not make it. I don’t want to make fun of anybody and this is just a simple fact of history, but I grew up in the Anglican church in Britain. And I tremendously appreciate the prayer book, the beautiful words and so on. It’s changed a little, you don’t say the same words now as an Episcopalian as you did then but every Sunday morning ‘round about 11:00 o’clock we would say together the general confession which was, “Pardon us miserable offenders. We have erred and strayed from thy ways like black sheep, we have done that which we ought not to have done, we have left undone that which we should have done.” Well, I had no difficulty in acknowledging that. My problem when I became a teenager was when I go out of this building I’m going to go on doing the same things that I’ve been asking God to forgive. And I really wonder whether that’s what God wants. It’s almost insulting God to confess sin, ask him to forgive and say as a matter of fact, God, I’m going to go on committing the same sins. When I looked around the people—now this is purely my view—and I saw we were all miserable offenders, I said to myself I can be an offender without religion and not nearly so miserable. So that was my personal reaction. For ten years I stayed away from the whole thing until God arrested me.
But you see, we’ve got to have more than our past sins forgiven. We’ve got to be able to live in a way that we’re not continually sinning again. What’s the obstacle? The law. Because the law stands between God and us. It’s very interesting if you read the account of the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. It did not bring the people to God, it kept the people from God. God said don’t let them even touch the mountain. Anything that touches the mountain has got to be killed. The idea that law brings people to God is an error.
So, we couldn’t come to God and live in his favor until the law had been set aside. Every time we wanted to do the right thing Satan would say that’s no good because they’ve broken this rule and this rule and this rule. They haven’t kept the Sabbath, they’ve eaten pork. I mean, the number of things that you have to do to keep the law is staggering. None of us can do it. Not even the Jews can do it. They all acknowledge we just haven’t kept the law. The secret of the cross is Jesus removed the law as a requirement for achieving righteousness with God. Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord.
And now I walk in the ways of God but I often stumble. I have many weaknesses and many problems. I’m different from all the rest of you. But I don’t worry as long as I’m continuing to believe. You know why? Shall I tell you this wonderful secret? Because my faith is reckoned to me for righteousness. As long as I stay in the faith God says I’ll take responsibility for you.
What impresses me about the scene between Jesus and Peter at the last supper was Jesus said to Peter you’re going to deny me three times. Then he said I’ve prayed for you. Now he didn’t say I’ve prayed for you that you won’t deny me. He said I’ve prayed for you that your faith won’t fail. Even if you deny me, if you don’t give up your faith, I’ll retrieve you. Isn’t that good news? Our faith is counted to us for righteousness. As long as we believe in the one who gave Jesus to die for our offenses and raised him again for our justification.
I feel a kind of sigh of relief inside myself every time I say that. God, thank you. I don’t have to keep all these silly rules. Now there is a place for rules. I don’t want to go into it, but every church is entitled to make its own rules for its members. And if you’re a member you have an obligation to observe the rules. Mind you, I’ll be choosy about the church whose rules I’ll permit myself to obey. But I’m not saying there is no place for rules. I’m just saying we do not achieve righteousness with God by observing any set of rules. What the problem with Christians is is that every group has got its own set of rules. They think they’re righteous because they keep those rules and they despise those people who don’t keep those rules. Is that true?
You see, when you get to the cross you get to the heart of everything. It changes everything. It’s like having a tremendous knot that you can’t untie but when you get to the cross it just opens up.
Let’s go on. We’ve got a few more statements to make and they’re rather frightening but they happen to be true. The next statement is the world does not recognize Jesus or his disciples. John 1:10:
“He [Jesus] was in the world and the world was made through him, and the world did not know him.”
Remarkable fact! Why didn’t they know him? Because their eyes had been blinded. Who blinded their eyes? Satan.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called children of God. Therefore, the world does not know us because it did not know him.”
If the world doesn’t know our elder brother the world doesn’t know the other members of the family. Don’t worry if the world doesn’t know you. It didn’t know him. In fact, you need to worry if the world thinks too well of you. That’s where you’re in danger.
The next statement goes still further. The world hates Jesus and his disciples. Now this is stated so many times that it’s amazing that so many of us didn’t see it. John 15. You notice how many times we turn to John’s writings? John is the great exposer of the world system. John 15:18–19. Jesus is talking to his disciples and says:
“If the world hates you you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
If you look at verse 19 for a moment, the phrase the world occurs five times in that verse. Jesus must be trying to tell us something there. Let me read that again. If you were of the world the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
And John 17:14, Jesus’ prayer for his disciples. Just this one scripture.
“I have given them your word and the world has hated them because they are not of the world just as I am not of the world.”
You could read many other passages in John’s writings. Brothers and sisters, don’t worry if the world hates you. In fact, really you need to worry for the other reason. If the world loves its own then you belong in the wrong company. Now I don’t mean that we go around looking for persecution. I just mean that we have to be realistic. Sooner or later that’s what’s going to be.
Let me say something to you which will become more obvious before I conclude my message. If you analyze what I’m saying you’ll find that I am actually portraying a certain type of social or philosophic movement that’s very prevalent today and it’s called humanism. Humanism is really the world, that’s what it is. It’s the world that’s formed a philosophy to justify itself. I wonder if you realize how much the humanists hate us? Theoretically they should be neutral. We don’t believe in religion, these people do. But that’s not their attitude. They hate our guts. You know what they want to see? They want to see us done away with. They want to eliminate us out of this nation. That’s their motivation. Why? They don’t have any exact reasons, they’re slaves. They’re motivated by the ruler of this world. And they are very definitely children of rebellion.
The Spirit of God and the world are opposed to each other. 1Corinthians 2. Now this is the answer to a problem that I had. It doesn’t solve the problem but it explains the problem. I was in a situation where I was dealing with nice Charismatic people. Most of them loved me. They believed the Bible. They were not leading openly sinful lives. But when I would begin to minister to them in certain areas I would find such an invisible force of opposition coming against me. Tremendous pressure, almost physically painful. And also, although they were believers, they were extraordinarily slow to grasp spiritual truth. I was amazed. You could say it and the next week it was just as if you hadn’t said it. I thought what am I dealing with. I wasn’t exactly praying for the answer but God showed me. I’ll read it to you in 1Corinthians 2:11 to start with.
“For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him. Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”
The only source of revelation of the things of God is the Holy Spirit. Now Paul goes on:
“We have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”
You see, Paul makes a sharp distinction. Not the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God. By implication they are opposite. And I realized that what I was dealing with in these good, religious people was the spirit of this world. And when I thought about the lives they lived I saw how clear it was. Very little time for God, very little time for prayer, much more time for television than the Bible, unwilling to make any significant sacrifice, always putting their own convenience before the things of God. I saw that’s it. They can be as religious as they please but it’s the spirit of the world that has control of them. So I decided to pray. And since Ruth and I have been praying, things have started to happen.
So if you are a pastor or a leader, you don’t have that kind of frustration, your people are all wonderful, I know. They love you, they come to the prayer meetings early. When it’s a night of prayer and fasting they’re all there with their blankets. You don’t have problems. But if you should ever run into a situation like that just bear in mind that what you’re probably dealing with is the spirit of the world.
Let’s read one more. Verse 13:
“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual [or sharing spiritual truths with spiritual men—there’s different ways of translating that.]”
That’s a very significant verse. Now I was a professional philosopher so I learned all the jargon of philosophy. And I’m not afraid of the jargon of psychology or psychiatry because I know all the words are taken basically from the Greek. But I want to tell you dear brothers and sisters, you cannot communicate real spiritual truth in that language because their categories are wrong. None of those disciplines acknowledge the reality of the Spirit. But man is spirit, soul and body. He’s not just soul and body. Any attempt to categorize man that leaves out the reality of the spirit distorts the truth. I am afraid when I hear preachers quoting the latest psychiatrist. I mean, they do have some intelligent things to say, I’m not against psychiatry.
But basically dear friends God’s word does not need to be endorsed by psychiatrists. It will do its own job. It is alive, powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. It divides between the soul and the spirit. That’s the only thing that can enable us to see the difference between soul and spirit. People who don’t live in the world can’t see it. And I have to tell you dear friends, if you love me or not love me—I hope you will—Charismatics are so easily fooled by the soulish instead of the spiritual. They can’t discern. So you can play on their emotions, you can work them up, you can tell them a sad story and get big offerings out of them. They’re not led by the Holy Spirit. They can’t tell the difference. Paul said to the Colossians, I would that you’d have a spirit that discerns between things. I could cry when I see how easily God’s people are fooled. I’ve been fooled myself but not too often. My aim is never make the same mistake twice. God will forgive you the first time, he’ll forgive you the second time, but why go through that agony twice? Much of what I’m sharing comes out of mistakes I’ve made. I have learned some of these things the hard way.
One more statement, this is a good one. Here’s the good news. The Spirit of God in believers is greater than the spirit of the world. Hallelujah! 1 John 4:1–6.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world...”
You understand, a false prophet is somebody who has a false spirit. He’s not just somebody who has got a few mental quirks but he’s somebody who is empowered by a deceiving spirit.
“...By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesses that Jesus the Messiah has come in the flesh is of God. Every spirit that does not confess Jesus [I think that’s the better translation] is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist which you have heard was coming and is now already in the world.”
I don’t want to go too deep but there are certain things that knowledge in the original language help with. The word antichrist—Christ you know is the Greek form for the Hebrew word Messiah. Hebrew ?meschiach?, Greek ?Cristos?. So the antichrist is the antimessiah.
Now in Greek anti has two meanings. Number one, against. Number two, in place of. And you have to put them both in to get the full meaning. The spirit of antichrist in the church, first of all, drives out the real Jesus. Then replaces him with a false Jesus. Does that happen? It’s happened in multitudes of denominations. I had friends in a Methodist church years back and they said, “In our church you can talk about Buddha or Plato or Martin Luther King. There’s just one name you mustn’t mention and that’s Jesus.” What’s that spirit? Antichrist. If it was in the world 19 centuries ago, how much more is it in the world today?
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them [that’s the representatives of antichrist] because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
He who is in you is the Holy Spirit. The spirit in the world is the spirit of antichrist. Thank God we’re on the winning side. Amen. Provided we know what we’re dealing with and we use our resources. I don’t believe that means we’re going to take the world over, let me say that. But we are not going to be defeated by Satan.
“They are of the world, therefore they speak of the world and the world hears them.”
See, it can be a snare for us to want the world to listen to us. Because it often works out when the world is listening to us we’re meeting them on their terms and using their terminology.
“We are of God, he who knows God hears us, he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error.”
What the world hears is in the spirit of this world. Now I don’t mean that we can’t present the truth in the power of the Holy Spirit, we must. But what I’m trying to tell you is that we can’t meet the world on its own terms.
Let me ask you this question: Which has influenced the other more? Has the church influenced Hollywood or Hollywood influenced the church? No sensible person could give any other answer but that. What is in Hollywood? The spirit of the world. Our brother was talking yesterday, Ken Sumrall, about the spirit of competition. Big names, headlines, what’s that? You look at the church advertisements in most American newspapers, the page where they advertise the Sunday services. We’ve got the biggest choir, we’ve got the best preacher, come hear him. What is that? What is it? What spirit is it? The spirit of the world. We cannot afford to meet the world on its terms. I’m not prepared to bow to the world.
I preached in High Point last Sunday. And I said something, I mean I preached myself into things, I was preaching on the cross. I heard myself say I am not impressed by what the world thinks, about what the world says, by its values, by its standards. I am not their slave. And you know when I said that I was set free! I’ve been a different person. I realize how near I was to wanting to please the world. Now I don’t believe in going out of our way to offend people, I believe we should be gracious, we should be tactful, we should be humble but we should not bow to the god of this world.
Let me just give you a little summation, you’ve been wonderfully patient. I’m just going to make some comparisons between the Spirit of God and the spirit of the world. First of all, we’ll just look in 1 John 4:5–6.
“The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Truth; the spirit of the world is the spirit of error.”
It’s that clear. And one thing I’ll tell you, brothers and sisters, is if you want to know the truth the Holy Spirit will tell you the truth. You may not enjoy the truth when you hear it because the truth is sometimes very painful. As Brother Sumrall said, if you start to pray for humility, look out. Ruth really identified with that message yesterday afternoon because all last year, the very same year, right at the beginning of the year she prayed to come closer to God and she ended up closer to God but I don’t think she anticipated the route she had to take. Out of one problem into the next. I mean, you know there was about a one week space in between.
Secondly we saw in 1Corinthians 2:12–14 the Spirit of God reveals the things of God. But the spirit of the world ridicules the things of God. They are foolishness to the person who doesn’t have the Spirit. How about speaking in tongues for an example? Listen to me, brothers and sisters. If you and I had been asked to plan the launching of the church and we got a committee together, do you think we would have ever done it God’s way? I mean, it staggers me to think God presented the church to the unbelieving world, 120 people all speaking in tongues at once. God was not embarrassed. I tell you, when we have our plans and our schemes and our systems, we are usually far away from what God would be doing. I’m not against planning but let’s get the plans from God.
John 16:14, Jesus said:
“The Spirit of Truth has come, he will glorify me.”
That’s one of the acid tests of whether the Holy Spirit is at work. Does it glorify Jesus? If it doesn’t, I don’t care what demonstrations there are. But it’s not the Spirit of God. The spirit of the world focuses on man. The spirit of the world is preparing the world for the antichrist. You know what his number will be, don’t you? Everybody knows that. 666. Many people have said that’s the number of man. Many of you may not know that in the Greek—let me say this first of all. In Hebrew and Greek, the two main languages of the Bible, every name has a number value because every letter has a number value. Like ?alef?, the first letter in the Hebrew language is one. ?Beh? is two, ?gimmel? is three and when they’ve gone up to ten they go to twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, one hundred, two hundred, three hundred, four hundred. Four hundred is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So, if you want to know the number of a person’s name—and Greek also has numerical values for every letter. If you want to know the number of a person’s name, instead of writing it horizontally you write it vertically, you write the number opposite each letter and add them up. So I mean, I’m not charging anything for this, when the antichrist comes, you add his name up, it’ll be 666. That’s my naive view, I just believe the Bible means what it says. It would be important at that time to be able to identify him. The interesting thing is I took the name of Jesus in Greek, ?Iesus?, wrote it vertically, wrote the numbers against it and added it up. Do you know what it came to? 888. That’s more than a coincidence. Eight is the resurrection number. Six is the number that just fails to achieve perfection.
So, what does humanism do? Its very name betrays it. What does it focus on? Man. That’s his essence. It’s rightly named. What is it going to do? It’s going to make man his own god. When the right man comes along the world will acknowledge him as god. I don’t have a lot of theories about fulfillment of end time prophecy but there are certain facts that are so clear that I just wonder if anybody doesn’t see them. I mean, we are so close, so much is already in place.
Let me tell you this: There’s never been an age like the age we live in. In the whole history of the human race the generation in which we live is totally unique. One thing is the time scale. Things that used to take hundreds of years began to take decades, now they take one year. Somebody said this. Ceaseless change is here to stay. If you can’t adjust you, have to drop out of the race today. Thank God even at my age I’ve succeeded in adjusting at this moment. I trust I’ll go on because I want to finish the race.
The next is Hebrews 9:14:
“Through the eternal Spirit Jesus offered himself without spot to God.”
The Holy Spirit is the eternal Spirit. The Greek word ?ionias?, the spirit of all the ages, the spirit that’s not limited in time.
And in 2Corinthians 4:17–18 Paul says:
“Our light affliction which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporary, the things which are not seen are eternal.”
The eternal Spirit reveals the eternal things. He focuses our mind on eternity, the real permanent issues of life and death. The spirit of this world focuses on the things of time. The spirit of this world doesn’t want to acknowledge that there’s anything beyond us. It’s afraid.
And then John 16:8, Jesus said:
“When he [the Spirit of Truth] comes, he will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.”
Those are the three eternal realities on which all true religion is based. Sin, righteousness and at the end, judgment. We’re going to have to give an account. And the Bible says all unrighteousness is sin. So there’s no three categories, sin or righteousness or neither. It’s all sin or righteousness.
2Corinthians 5:10 Paul says:
“We must all stand before the judgment seat of God to give an account of the things done in the body whether they be good or bad.”
There’s nothing in between. Now if there’s one word the world hates it’s accountable. That’s the essence of humanism. We are not accountable to anybody. And they fight that with everything in them. The whole of their educational philosophy is directed toward teaching children we’re not really accountable. Everything is relative. We don’t have to answer. Peter said in 2Peter 3, the end of the age, there would come scoffers saying where is the promise of the Lord’s return? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were. That’s the philosophy of humanism. And it has a prophet and his name is Darwin. And that’s the essence of Darwinism. Everything continues as it was. No sudden changes, no cataclysms, no divine judgments but just going on and on and on. I was too smart even when I was an unbeliever to believe that nonsense. I never could believe Darwin’s theory. It has more inconsistencies in it than I have hairs on my head. That’s the spirit, you understand?
Just two more and we close. 2Timothy 1:7:
“The Spirit of God is the Spirit of power, love and a sound mind.”
Or self-control. Power, not physical power, not military power, not political power, let’s be very careful. Spiritual power, power over evil. The spirit of this world is the spirit of subjection to evil. The Spirit of God brings love. The spirit of this world brings strife, disharmony and hatred. Is that true?
Have you noticed that people are getting more intense in all their likes and dislikes? I mean, even since I’ve lived in the United States the attitudes have changed. People are either for or against everything and they’re intensely for or against. I mean there’s no middle ground. And I would say that basically there is less and less possibility of people getting it together. Because the right is going further right and the left is going further left. The liberals are becoming more liberal and the conservatives are becoming more conservative. In every area there’s a lack of self-control. There’s no more moderation. That’s the third feature of the Spirit of God. The spirit of a sound mind or self-control. The spirit of this world produces rational extremes and self-indulgence.
And finally Hebrews 10:29:
“The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Grace.”
The only way grace that ever comes into our lives is by the Holy Spirit. There’s no other way. What’s the spirit of this world? It’s the opposite of grace, it’s the spirit of fleshly effort. Struggling, striving, relying on ourselves, pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps.
Let me just recapitulate that and we’re going to close. Tonight, God helping me I’ll bring the second part of this message. Let me just quickly—I’ll do it on my right hand and my left. Right hand the Spirit of God, left hand the spirit of this world. You don’t have to be a theologian because basically they’re all opposites. Right hand, the Spirit of Truth. Left hand, the spirit of error. That’s why people are so silly. If they just use their senses they wouldn’t believe a lot of the things they believe but they are the prey of a spiritual force which is the spirit of error.
Right hand, the Holy Spirit reveals the things of God. Left hand, the spirit of this world ridicules the things of God.
Right hand, the Spirit of God focuses on Jesus. Left hand, the spirit of the world focuses on man.
The Spirit of God convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment. The spirit of the world says they aren’t real. We’re not accountable. One thing they hate is the thought that they would have to give an account of their lives to God.