Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Real Aliens

If I were to ask you today, “Where do you live?”  Some might respond with their street address, some might respond with the city and state, some might even respond with the country.  And while all of these answers, would be true, would be obvious, they still would not be complete.  We also live in a place the Bible calls the world.  This term, world, does include the physical world, but it also includes the motives, behavior, values, and attitudes of men.  This term includes all that makes up the course of this world, the way things are done, the reason things are done, the ways of thinking and living of the people who inhabit this world; for it is the way that man is that determines the course of this entire earth, for it is man that governs the earth.

But there is another dimension to this world, an unseen dimension that is just as real as the physical dimension, and it is the spiritual dimension; and it is this dimension that governs man.  Even though man inhabits the physical dimension of this world, man is governed by the spiritual dimension of his life, and there is a ruler of that spiritual dimension, who is not a man.  His name is Satan, and he is known as the devil, or the evil one.  It is he that governs man, and therefore governs the world.

In several places the Bible speaks to the governing of man by the devil.
I Timothy 2:26…men are held captive by Satan to do his will……
In Acts 26 we are told that men are under the dominion of Satan
I John 5:19…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
Three times in John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11… he is called the ruler of this world.
In John 8:44 Jesus tells the Pharisees that they are of their father (meaning spiritual father) the devil. 
In Ephesians 2:2 we learn that people walk (the way they live their life) according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience
Ephesians 6:12 tells us that there are rulers and powers, world forces of darkness, that there are spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 
II Corinthians 4:4 tells us that the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving…

So why is the world the way it is?  Because it is governed by someone who is opposed to God in every way.

However, Jesus makes a very poignant declaration to His disciples in John 15:19..."You are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world."  Jesus was telling His disciples that since He had chosen them they no longer belonged to this world.  Then in Jesus high priestly prayer to His Father in John 17 we learn the following:
*We were given to Christ out of the world.
*Although Christ is no longer in the world, yet we remain in the world.
*Even though we are in the world, yet we are not of the world, even as Christ was not of the world.
*Christ did not ask the Father to take us out of the world, but to keep us from the evil of the world.

So, if we are still living in this world, but no longer belong to this world and are not of this world, what does this make us?  According to the Scripture, we are now citizens of another spiritual realm, another kingdom.  This is what John the Baptist preached and also what our Lord preached as He began His earthly ministry as we see in Matthew 4:17 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  Christ tells us in John 18:36 that His kingdom is not of this world.  Paul talks about our citizenship in this kingdom in Philippians 3:20 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; and in Ephesians 2:19 he tells us who all are citizens of heaven, "For you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household."

A question that might be asked is, "How did we/do we become citizens of Christ's kingdom, the kingdom of heaven?"  Let's see what the Bible shows us.  Colossians 1:13 tells us, "For He (God) rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son."  In John 3:5 Christ tells Nicodemus this, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  I John 5:1 tells us, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."  So we see there must be a spiritual birth to be a citizen of God's kingdom, and that as a result of the spiritual birth God, transfers us into His kingdom.

So, if we are citizens of another kingdom, a kingdom that is not of this world, but is a heavenly kingdom, what then is our relationship to this world in which we still live but are no longer a part of? According to the Bible we are aliens, strangers, and exiles.  Listen to Peter in his opening statement in his first epistle, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens , scattered throughout Pontus, Galtia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia....."  Here we see that although they live in a physical location, yet they reside there as aliens.  This is not because they were of a different nationality physically, but a different nationality spirituality.  Again Peter talks about our alienship in II Peter 2:11 "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul..." Why would he give the admonishment to them as aliens and strangers? Because in I John 2:16 we see that fleshly lusts are part of the things of this world, are things that those that belong to this world participate in,  and we are no longer of this world, and therefore should no longer be a participant in fleshly lusts.  In the hall of faith in Hebrews 11 we see the following statement in verse 13 "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth."  (See also Psalm 119:19)  

As such, being aliens in this world:

* We speak a foreign language.
I Corinthians 2:6-16

*We dress differently
Galatians 3:27, Romans 13:14

*We behave differently.
I Peter 4:2, Ephesians 4:17-19

*We have a different odor
II Corinthians 2:14-16b, Philippians 2:17, 4:18, Romans 12:1, Ephesians 5:1-2

*We are misunderstood, we are an enigma to this world.
I Peter 4:4, Jude 1:10

This alien motif (R C Sproul loves the word motif) runs all the way through the Bible, starting with Abraham, then the Jewish nation, then Christ, and then the church, Christ's body.  That is why it is so out of place, so alien, if you will,  for the church to try so hard to be like the world so as to attract the world.  We are to be strangers to this world, we are to be in the world but not of the world, we are to stay away from the evil of this world (I Corinthians 6:17), we are to look differently, behave differently, smell differently, and speak differently.  We are to expect to be misunderstood, maligned, or made fun of because we don't fit it; even by our own families.  We should know that this world and all it contains is only temporary, and is already in the process of passing away (I John 2:15-17).  We are to store up treasures in heaven, which will be our eternal abode, instead of here on earth which is our temporary abode (Matthew 6:19-21).  Our desires are to be heavenly desires not earthly desires (Philippians 3:12-14).  We are to have eternal priorities not temporal priorities (Colossians 3:1-4).   

So, fellow aliens, when we are enticed by all this world seemingly has to offer, let us remember that we have a better possession and a lasting one, and remind ourselves that we are strangers in this world who are just passing through on the way to our true home.  

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