Kingdom Culture: Victory

This week, we’re continuing our new message series entitled Kingdom Culture. In this message series, we’ll be learning about the culture in the kingdom of heaven and how to have His kingdom come and will be done here on earth. This begins by replacing our values, attitudes, goals, and practices with His and allowing Him to transform and renew our minds to think, act, and be like Him.
We learned of the foundational value of agape, unconditional love and the next building blocks of hope and faith.  However, I found it necessary to take a step back and look at one thing that we need to be aware of and understand in bringing God’s kingdom here on earth even as it is in heaven.
This week, we’re going to learn of the victory that we find when we choose to allow God’s kingdom to invade our lives.  We’ll find that we can be overcomers and more than conquerors through Christ.
First, however, we need to understand why our desire should be to bring God’s kingdom on earth and why God’s kingdom is not already here on earth.  We need to understand what we are overcoming, conquering, and being victorious over.  After all, before waging war and being victorious over something, we need to first identify who or what the enemy is.
The truth is that there is a war raging all around us constantly.  Everyday we face trials, temptations, and struggles; often we do not even realize it or realize why.  We can even deny the existence of the spiritual realm and the evil forces influencing us, but it doesn’t change our reality.  We also do not cease to face this war when we receive Christ’s salvation.  In fact, we actually become more fully aware of this war and engaged in it.
There is a war because there are things of tremendous value at stake.  We are involved in this war because we are the heirs who receive these things if we choose Christ’s salvation and are adopted into the family of God.  Although it feels as if though our struggles are constantly with ourselves and others and we tend to blame others or our circumstances for these struggles, we find that Ephesians 6:12 tells us where the true source of these struggles lie.  Before we can live a victorious life and overcome these struggles, we first have to be honest about where they come from.
One of the greatest tragedies that occurs in our lives is when we fail to recognize or acknowledge these struggles or just accept them as something that is just a part of life that we ignore and move forward within.  There are many reasons why we have a tendency to deny the fact that there is a war raging, but it doesn’t change the facts and our reality.  To deny the reality of Satan, the demons, and this warfare denies the reality of Jesus and also the work of Jesus for our salvation and the very need of His salvation.
Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
The true enemy and the true struggles that we experience in these battles are not against flesh and blood – they are not against ourselves and others or our circumstances even though this is where we physically see the battle being fought.  Our enemy is not ourself or others or our circumstances, it is a battle between the rule of God’s kingdom of light and life and Satan’s kingdom of darkness and death in our lives and in this world.
John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jesus brought God’s kingdom on earth by destroying the works of the enemy.  This verse gives us a sort of guide to follow in making the distinction between a work of God and a work of the enemy.  All sickness, disease, torment, destructive addictions, and sin comes from Satan.  We know this because Jesus came and drove all of these out and instead gave healing, deliverance, freedom, and forgiveness.  The reality of this war is clearly displayed all through Jesus’ life.  From the very beginning of His ministry, Satan himself tempted him and all of the miracles performed were simply pushing back Satan’s kingdom and bringing forth God’s kingdom.
Satan being this enemy and thief with a kingdom opposing God’s own was not always the case, however.  There was a time after creation where perfection existed and there was no death, sickness, or sin.  Even Satan himself, who was created by God, is described as being the seal of perfection.  He was at one time a guardian cherub who was blameless and perfectly beautiful.  There isn’t a whole lot found in scripture detailing the unfolding event when this changed, but scripture is filled with evidence of the battle raging since then as well as how it will all end when Satan and the other fallen angels are cast into the lake of fire for eternal torment.
Let’s take a look at a few scriptures believed to describe this event where Satan became proud along with the fallen angels we now know as demons.
Ezekiel 28:12-17
12 You were the seal of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden,
the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you:
carnelian, chrysolite and emerald,
topaz, onyx and jasper,
lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
on the day you were created they were prepared.
14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God;
you walked among the fiery stones.
15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.
16 Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence,
and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
and I expelled you, guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.
17 Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth;
I made a spectacle of you before kings.
Isaiah 14:12-15
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
to the depths of the pit.
So we find that Satan was cast out of heaven because his heart became prideful because of his beauty.  He said in his heart that he would be like God Himself, the Most High, which is what pride does to our hearts.  It puffs us up to think that we are someone who we are not, but blinds us from believing that we have done so.  It is also commonly accepted that Revelation 12:4 reveals that at this time, one third of the angels were also cast out of heaven to the earth.  From this moment, Satan began his work killing, stealing, and destroying.  He started in the garden of Eden where we find him deceiving Adam and Eve introducing sin into God’s newly and perfectly created paradise separating God from man.  Since without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin, death was necessary to also come into this perfect paradise to bring reconciliation between God and man.  From that moment until the end of this earth, all of mankind is born into sin and require this shedding of blood to be reconciled in our relationship with God.  This is why Jesus came, lived the perfect, sinless life, and gave it so that we could be reconciled with God and to remove the work of the enemy from our lives.  He gives us the authority and power to overcome temptation, sin, and death, and every other work of the enemy.
Although we don’t know with 100% certainty why Satan and his demons continue to torment us by stealing, killing, and destroying, we do know with certainty a few things.  We were created by God, in His very own image, and were created for Him.
Genesis 1:27
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Colossians 1:16
For in him (Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
Since Satan and his demons have been banned from the kingdom of heaven and cast down to earth, they roam about and war against the next closest thing, those created in God’s own image to worship Him.  Satan, still in his pride, longs to receive the worship that we choose to give to God and to keep us from God’s plans for our lives and from worshiping God.  We serve as a constant reminder to Satan of the destiny that awaits him and his fellow fallen angels.  As his day of judgment draws nearer, the fervency of his attack and deceit increase.
He is now known after his fall as the god of this world, which is why friendship to the world is hatred toward God.  He’s also known as the enemy, the father of all lies, the tempter, the deceiver, the accuser of believers, the devil, satan, lucifer, and the ruler of darkness.  He works in opposition to God and His perfect plans and purposes.  He prowls like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).  He traps people and holds them captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26).
If we deny the existence and desires of Satan and demons, we deceive ourselves and are sure to lose the war raging against us.  We know that God dwelling within those saved is of far greater power and authority than Satan and the demons, but we cannot deny who the real enemy is if we are to win the war and the battles that we struggle with daily.  If we believe that we are struggling with ourselves, others, or our circumstances, then we will believe that they are our enemy.  However, when we fight against ourselves, others, and our circumstances, we will never overcome and will spend our lives chasing our tails and miss everything that God has planned for us.
When we bring God’s kingdom to earth, we do so by first driving out Satan’s kingdom and work.  We see heaven meet earth as Jesus encountered those demon possessed and they asked if He came to destroy them before their time.  They knew who Jesus was, what He is going to do with them, and that their time has an end.  Jesus’ ministry was to destroy the works of the enemy and to restore God’s kingdom on earth and He has given us this same ministry.  He has equipped and empowered us to continue His work.
We have the victory over every work of the enemy through the salvation we freely are given through Christ!  Satan no longer has any authority in our lives except that which we give him.  It’s also up to us to share the good news of His salvation so that others can experience this same victory.
So, how do we keep walking in victory since since there is continuously such opposition to us?  Just as in any war, we must realize that the war is won by gaining the victory in the smaller battles.  We overcome the work of the enemy in our lives by having endurance and persevering through the small victories.
James 1:2-4;13-15
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Although God does not tempt us, He does allow the enemy to test our faith as to grow it and produce within us a perseverance which matures us and completes us so that we lack nothing.  Just as with physical training, we grow stronger by adding more resistance and fighting that greater resistance for longer durations; God grows our faith by allowing the same things to be introduced into our lives, more resistance and for longer durations.  It is not to destroy our faith, but to grow our faith and bring us to a new level of maturity.
God also does not choose to control our lives, but gives us free will to make choices.  Since God has given us this free will and is the ultimate authority, Satan and his demons also cannot remove this free will to choose.  The choice weapon of the enemy is often deceit, which manipulates our choices.  He makes half promises with half truths, which are still lies.  He becomes aware of our weaknesses and tempts us in them.  He keeps our focus on the here and now and the temporary pleasures and escapes in life which the temptation does honestly offer, however, keeps us distracted and uninformed of the long-term destruction that they bring.  He is usually also sure to give us every excuse and justification that we need to accept this sin into our lives.  He hardens our hearts to those who warn us of our walk toward destruction and blame them for not understanding or for being judgmental or hypocritical.  Often, we do not see this destruction coming until we’re in the midst of experiencing it.  Unfortunately, Satan doesn’t have to work very hard to make all of this happen because of the sinful nature that we inherited from Adam and Eve.
When we choose to give into temptation, it’s like the conceiving stage in pregnancy.  The first time that we give into temptation, we don’t really see any significant changes in our lives and usually only walk away remembering the pleasure that we experienced by giving into it.  James chose to compare this process to pregnancy for a reason.  In the first step of pregnancy, there is sex.  It’s pleasurable, just as God created it to be.  When a child is conceived, there are no obvious signs at first, only the memory of that moment of pleasure.
However, just as a child in pregnancy, after we have conceived these evil desires, these sins begin to grow within our lives.  We have given Satan a stronghold in our lives, but it is not obvious at first.  As these desires grow within us, we begin to grow sin.  Just like the trimesters of pregnancy, sin growing in our lives begins to take its toll and the signs slowly begin to show.  Often, just as in pregnancy, mood swings, irritability, changed attitudes, cravings, and even physical changes take place in our lives.  Some sins reveal themselves far more quickly and others keep themselves very well hidden.  Many addictions and substance abuses that the enemy tempts us with today reveal themselves very quickly through missing finances, physical changes, loss of jobs, loss of relationships, and extreme emotional and mental changes.  These are like seeds of evil desires that spring up quickly and bear large fruits.  Other evil desires that birth into sin such as pride hide themselves as they take their time working to grow their root system all through our lives and begin to bear fruit in small ways and usually in many areas of our lives.  These sins are not as obvious, but they all eventually grow and have the same end.  Remember that even Satan himself was beautiful and anointed as a guardian cherubim until wickedness was found inside him.
Just as in pregnancy, the time finally comes as the child has been growing and preparing for it’s birth.  As sin continues to grow in our lives, it will eventually become fully grown and give birth to death.  For some sins, this death is usually very physical and obvious to all such as the case of drug overdoses.  For other sins, the death may not be obvious in the physical sense, but a very harsh and grim reality in the spiritual and emotional sense.  It kills our desire to seek after God and to serve Him, it kills our attitude toward the church, Christ’s own body, and toward others.  It’s a slow and gradual process, but still just as real and Satan eagerly desires to see any of these types of deaths in our lives.
How can we recognize when we are being enticed and tempted by our evil desires?  How do we avoid this demise and abort the sin in our lives before it becomes fully grown and lead to our death?  How do we gain the victory in life and begin overcoming the battles that we face daily?  Is there any way that we can find hope and refuge from this war?  Can there be peace and rest in our lives?
Come next week and we’ll gain insight on this together.