What did the Lord mean when He said to me that He is working a desire in the hearts of disciples for His kingdom and His culture? What is the contrast between His culture and the culture of the world?
Jesus referred to Satan's domain as a kingdom in Matthew 12:26: "If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself. How shall his kingdom stand?" So what is the culture of Satan's kingdom?
A brief scan of the New Testament reveals Satan's kingdom is darkness, alienated from the light and life of God, which means blindness to the reality of things. In Ephesians 4:18 it says those of darkness are 'past feeling' (no longer grieved in their spirit, nor do they feel impressions from God in their spirit, and therefore their soul is seared to no longer feel spiritual input) and spiritually blind.
These qualities include that blindness, fear, confusion as listed in James 3:15-16, and includes those things that are 'sensual'. The Greek word translated 'sensual' here is 'psychike' and is combined with 'earthly' just before it and 'demonic' after it, reads this way: "is earthly unfeeling demonic thinking."
How is the culture of darkness, spiritual blindness, fear, confusion, earthly unfeeling demonic thinking expressed?
The 'works (literally 'acts') of the flesh' of Galatians 5:19-21
Don't read these just as acts of the flesh, but also think of them as acts rooted in the the cultural of the kingdom of darkness. Paul lists the following, in the Greek.
Verse 19: "porneia" (fornication, harlotry, idolatry (elevating someone else sexually in 'worship' for what they provide sexually), "akatharsia" (sexual impurity, perversion), "aseigeia" (uncontrolled sexual desire, promiscuity).
Verse 20: "Idolatry (literal idolatry, but including anything elevated in one's heart to stand or that stands between a person and God.) "sorcery" which includes magic, spells and such.
Verse 20 continues: "enmities" (hostility towards others, when someone is angry with or hates another without just cause), "strife" (quarrel, wrestling over words, contentions), "jealousy" (literally, 'heat' towards another in possessiveness and control), "outbursts of anger, wrath" (an explosive outburst here is contrast to a slow burning anger beneath the surface. Wrath is a violent outburst of anger without righteous justification towards another), "contentions" (contentions demonstrated by picking sides one against another).
"dissension" (standing apart, dis-union, breaking relationship due to one's opinion, breaking off a relationship for those reasons), "factions" (literally, 'heresies' meaning 'making a choice for disunion', meaning a person making a choice not to fellowship with another because they believe one thing while their now former friend believes another).
Verse 21: "envyings", (ill-will towards another), "drunkeness" (literally: 'intoxication'), "carousing" (literally a 'feasting" with drunking and sexual immorality. Then as now, it describes the party scene and culture).
V21 continues: "and things like these". So this is a partial list Paul calls 'the works of the flesh' and we can see are part of that culture of the kingdom of darkness.
I should point out there is no demonic influence listed. These are just acts of the flesh. For instance, sorcery is listed as an act of the flesh. The point isn't that demons become involved, but that a person willfully takes part in sorcery/witchcraft/spells/magic. It initiates as an act of one's will to participate, to justify that participation.
The culture of the kingdom of God
In II Peter 1:5-8 he lists character qualities of a maturing believer: "Besides these things, with diligence add to your faith, moral excellence, and knowledge, and self control, endurance (consistency) and godliness (a lifestyle of God and His goodness), and to that brotherly love and unconditional love. If these things are in you and abounding, they will make you so that you are not idle nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self control, consistency, godliness, brotherly love, unconditional love. These are qualities of one's character who is living and maturing in the kingdom of heaven's culture.
Those are a big contrast to the character destroying culture of the kingdom of darkness
How are these godly character qualities of kingdom culture expressed in daily life? Let's look at the Fruit of the spirit (Spirit) from Galatians 5:22-23.
I would make the point the context is the acts of the human flesh, so Paul immediately contrasts that with the fruit of the human spirit. Translators often capitalize the 'S' to make it 'fruit of the (Holy) Spirit', but to me, that misses Paul's point, for he was purposely contrasting elements of the kingdom of darkness as expressed in the lives of people with the elements of the kingdom of God expressed in the lives of people.
I would also point out that fruit is a product of a tree. As I read it, the Holy Spirit IS that tree, and the fruit of it would be the qualities of God coming forth from the human spirit as an apple is a product of an apple tree. The fruit is connected to the tree and from that tree gets its life. So these are fruit of the human spirit. The further point is that fruit is meant to be consumed, it carries seed that any may eat and produce more of that fruit, all of which point to these being qualities of the human spirit. Part of our witness is that we live these cultural elements of the kingdom of God and they are meant to be planted in someone's life, so that they may partake of the culture and life of God.
"But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness (benevolent), faithfulness, gentleness (mildness, humility), self control. Against such there is no law."
When we contrast the culture of Satan's kingdom with the culture of God's kingdom, we see a huge difference. The time is coming and now is when the body of Christ will stand out in stark contrast in God's culture, because it is so different from the world's culture. THAT awareness of the kingdom of God is growing in the spirits of Christians all over the world, who now from deep down inside, want to see the Father's will and kingdom done on the earth - but is first manifest in our own lives and in the relationships we have. And we'll pick it up there next week, until then, blessings,
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