Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: The Christian knows intuitively that he/she belongs to God and that the world about them is under the sway of the evil one. The message explores some of the parameters of this knowledge.

“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” [1]

The New York Stock Exchange hits a new high every week, sometimes even breaking previous trading records several times in a week. Investor exuberance does make some potential traders nervous; they wonder when the bubble will burst. Our local economy depends upon growth in sales of several commodities. Because of the cyclic nature of marketing those commodities, we witness companies frenetically hiring people to work in the various resource sectors, and then we see those same companies downsizing precipitously. As you are only too aware, this cyclic hiring and downsizing results in extreme uncertainty as people overextend themselves to buy a new house, a new truck, new toys and furnishings—all purchased on credit. Then, all these things are repossessed when these same people are laid off. It is hard to gauge the value of your house as assessments skyrocket and then plummet depending upon what the resource sectors are doing in the previous year. We are exhausted trying to keep up; we need a stable piece of ground on which we can stand.

This same corybantic attitude invades the churches as parishioners are pushed from one theological fad to the next, sometimes changing position several times in a year. Pastors seem especially susceptible to chasing the ruminations of the latest church growth expert. We are always assured that the latest thing that worked in Atlanta will work in Dawson Creek! Really? Where can a Christian go to catch her or his breath? We need a rock on which to stand. I thank God that we have a rock on which to plant our feet.

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

[PSALM 18:2]

I can depend upon the Living God. With the Psalmist we can exult,

“I waited patiently for the LORD;

he inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the pit of destruction,

out of the miry bog,

and set my feet upon a rock,

making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,

and put their trust in the LORD.”

[PSALM 40:1-3]

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON? “We know that … the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Whenever we speak of the world in the context of the Faith, we are not speaking of the physical orb we know as earth, we are speaking of the world system, the means by which mankind conducts itself. Speaking of “the world” focuses attention on the system of life, the system of conduct and governance that guides daily life. John has just stated that we who are twice-born known intuitively that the world system lies in the power of the evil one.

We know this because Jesus said this was the case. Listen as Jesus speaks of His death. “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” [JOHN 12:31, 32]. Jesus said that “the ruler of this world” would be cast out as result of His sacrifice. It should be obvious that He was referring to the evil one.

Again, Jesus was speaking with His disciples as He prepared them for His exodus. He said, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” [JOHN 14:30, 31a]. Again, the Master referred to the evil one as “the ruler of this world.”

Soon after Jesus spoke these words, He was recorded as saying to His disciples, “Now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” [JOHN 16:5-11]. Note that He again referred to the evil one as “the ruler of this world.”

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