The greatest event in our lives occurred when we became “children of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26), believing the simple gospel message “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). Nothing compares with it. Nothing at all. For that single decision has forever changed the course of our lives and eternal destinies in ways we can never fully calculate. Through faith in Christ, we were forgiven all our sins (Eph 1:7; Heb 10:10-14), given the gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17; Phil 3:9), eternal life (John 10:28), became “children of God” (John 1:12), were rescued “from the domain of darkness” and transferred “to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col 1:13), and are now brothers and sisters to Jesus, Who is “the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim 6:15). These, and other wonderful blessings have been bestowed on us who are now, in Christ.
After being “justified as a gift by His grace” (Rom 3:24), we are called into phase two of the Christian life, which is our sanctification. In this phase, we start off as newborn babes in Christ, knowing little about God and His Word. As spiritual babies, our primary objective is to grow into spiritual adulthood, to “press on to maturity” (Heb 6:1), “no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14), but “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph 4:14-15). We advance to spiritual maturity by learning and living God’s Word on a daily basis, as we feed on “the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet 2:2). The reality is that we cannot live what we do not know, and learning God’s Word necessarily precedes living His will. But, it is possible to learn His Word and not live His will. For this reason, we must be “doers of the word, and not merely hearers” who delude ourselves (Jam 1:22).
Called Into Service to the King
Now that we are God’s people and are growing spiritually, we are called into service to the King, to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Eph 4:1). Paul uses similar language when writing to Christians in Thessalonica, saying, “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Th 2:12). We are called to a mission, and our mission field is wherever we happen to be and includes whoever we happen to meet. To fulfill our divine objective requires submission, humility, commitment, biblical education, field training, and advancement testing. We reach the spiritual high-ground by operating by faith as God’s Word saturates our thinking and directs our speech and behavior. And this dynamic life of service is executed in the Lord’s power, for “whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever” (1 Pet 4:11).
Sadly, not everyone answers the call to service, as our positional justification does not guarantee our experiential sanctification. But for those few who do answer the call, there is no better life, no higher calling, no nobler pursuit, than that which we live in our daily walk with the God of the universe who has called us “out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9; cf. Eph 4:8-9). As those who are now “the saints in Light” (Col 1:12), we need to act like it. God expects our performance to reflect our position in Christ, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light; for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth, trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph 5:8-10). And we are to “lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:12), and learn to function “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15). Being a light in the world means helping those who are positive to God to know Him. It means sharing Scripture with them. It means sharing the gospel of grace to the lost who want to know God so they might be saved (1 Cor 15:3-4; Eph 2:8-9). And for Christians who want to grow spiritually, it means helping them know God’s Word so they can advance to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1; cf., 2 Tim 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18). Such a life glorifies God, edifies others, and results in joy for the believer.
Our service to the Lord takes place in an ever fluctuating hostile environment that is largely governed by Satan. And we’re not told why, but for His own sovereign reasons, God permits Satan a modicum of freedom in our world, to influence mankind to function apart from God. As believers-on-a-mission, we are instructed, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15a), and “do not be conformed to this world” (Rom 12:2a), for “friendship with the world is hostility toward God” (Jam 4:4). The world (κόσμος kosmos) does not refer to the physical planet (γῆ ge), but to those values and philosophies that are antithetical to God and His Word, which values and philosophies originate in Satan, the prince of darkness, and are promoted by his demonic forces and those people who belong to his kingdom of darkness. It’s helpful for us to know that Satan’s world-system is unreformable, being systemically corrupt throughout. Being irredeemable, Satan’s world-system can only be resisted. For those people who are trapped in that system, we share the gospel of grace with the hope that they will turn to Christ and be rescued out of it. When someone turns to Christ as their Savior, they are liberated from “the dominion of Satan” (Acts 26:18), as God rescues them “from the domain of darkness” and transfers them “to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col 1:13). This is their new reality in Christ, as they have been transferred from one kingdom to another.
As we grow spiritually and walk with God, learning and living His Word (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17), we will stand in opposition to Satan’s world-system and sow the seeds of spiritual insurrection in the lives of those who live and walk in his kingdom of darkness. We disrupt Satan’s kingdom when we share the free grace gospel that liberates others from spiritual bondage and brings them into relationship with God. The gospel is the only way a person can be delivered from spiritual slavery; “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). Once saved, we seek to influence the thoughts and lives of other Christians through biblical teaching (1 Tim 4:13; 2 Tim 4:2), fellowship (Heb 10:23-25), prayer (Jam 5:16), edification (Eph 4:29), encouragement (1 Th 5:11), love (1 Th 4:9; cf. Eph 4:14-15), and words of grace (Col 4:6).
But Satan does not want us to succeed and will work to hinder us, either by pleasures or pressures. When we fail, and we occasionally will (Prov 20:9; Eccl 7:20; Rom 7:18-21; Jam 3:2), it’s important to confess our sins directly to God and accept His forgiveness (1 John 1:9), get back into the arena and “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim 6:12), and share God’s gospel of grace with all who will listen. And as we promote the gospel and biblical teaching, we will disrupt Satan’s domain of darkness by calling out of it a people for God. Worldly-minded people may not want to hear what we have to say, and their personal choices should be respected (Matt 10:14; Acts 13:50-51), but they should never be under the false impression that they have the right to quiet us.
Ultimately, we know God’s plans will advance. He will win. The future messianic kingdom on earth will come to pass. Christ will return. Jesus will put down all forms of rebellion—both satanic and human—and will rule this world with perfect righteousness and justice. But until then, we must continue to learn and live God’s Word and fight the good fight. We are to live by faith (Heb 10:38; 11:6), share the gospel of grace (1 Cor 15:3-4), disciple others (Matt 28:19-20), be good and do good (Gal 6:9-10; Tit 2:11-14), and look forward to the return of Christ at the rapture (Tit 2:13; cf. John 14:1-3; 1 Th 4:13-18).
As Christians, we have been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Our salvation results in forgiveness of sins, the gift of righteousness, eternal life, and a new status as a child of God. After our salvation, we are called to journey towards spiritual maturity and service to our God and King. The journey involves learning God’s Word and applying it by faith, and service to the King requires submission, humility, commitment, field training, and advancement testing. As God’s children, we are to glorify God in all things, be lights in a dark world, and help others know Him and grow spiritually. But we live in the reality that living the Christian life is not always easy and will be met with opposition, both from Satan and other people who operate according to their fallen natures. Despite this opposition, we are encouraged to share the gospel of grace and biblical truth with others, to live by faith, and serve as ambassadors for God. By promoting the gospel and biblical teaching, we disrupt Satan’s domain of darkness by calling people to God. While not everyone wants to hear the gospel or Bible teaching, believers should be respectful, conversational, and never have a confrontational attitude, as arrogance never helps advance biblical truth. Ultimately, we know God will establish his righteous kingdom on earth after the Second Coming of Jesus, so we look forward to His return.
Dr. Steven R. Cook
- The Gospel Explained
- Walking with God
- Enjoying the Spiritual Life
- Biblical Self-Talk
- Knowing and Doing the Will of God
- The High Calling of God’s Servant
- The Life of Faith
- The Righteous Lifestyle of the Believer
- Commitment Love
- Reasons Why We Obey God
- Choosing Righteous Friends
- Choosing the Faithful Way
- What it Means to Follow Jesus
- Walking with God
 God always retains His sovereignty over His creation, for “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psa 103:19). As believers, we know “our God is in the heavens, and He does whatever He pleases” (Psa 115:3), and that “the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind” (Dan 4:17).
 Our world is fallen for two reasons. First, at some time in the past—we don’t know exactly when—there was an angelic revolt in heaven, where an angel, of the class of cherubim, by the name of Lucifer, sinned against God and led an angelic revolt (Isa 14:12-14; Ezek 28:12-17). The result was that a third of the angels fell with Satan (Rev 12:4), and this created his kingdom of darkness. But Satan expanded his kingdom of darkness when he convinced the first humans, Adam and Eve, to follow him rather than God (Gen 3:1-8). When Adam and Eve sinned, they abandoned their position as theocratic administrators (Gen 1:26-28) and handed the title deed of the world over to Satan (Luke 4:5-6), who now rules over the realm of mankind. Three times Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Other Scriptures call Satan “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), informing us “that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). And Satan is no benevolent dictator, but rules as a tyrant who has “weakened the nations” (Isa 14:12), and currently “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9; cf. Rev 20:3). Satan rules by deception, oppression, and enslavement; and because he is a finite creature, he relies on others—fallen angels and people—to help him advance his agenda. These are his useful idiots.
 Systemic corruption refers to a form of corruption that cannot separate the inherently immoral values from the institutions and processes that guide them. This corruption permeates the entire fabric of Satan’s system, and reflects his values, strategies, and practices. And Satan’s corruption infects most of society, influencing those who accept his values and practices, who range from high-ranking officials to everyday citizens.
 In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gave the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matt 13:36-43). In that parable, Jesus said, “the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the weeds are the sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38). This is a picture of reality, as the whole world is split into two groups of people, the saved (good seed) and the lost (weeds). This means everyone we meet is either a child of God or a child of Satan. Those are the only two options. And this state of affairs will continue until Christ returns at His second coming, at which time He will remove all unbelievers (Matt 13:39), and will establish His earthly kingdom for a thousand years (Matt 6:10; Rev 20:4-6). Afterwards, all unbelievers will stand before Christ at the Great White Throne judgment and be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:11-15).
 As God’s influencers in the world, we should never try to force the gospel or Bible teaching on anyone, but be willing to share when opportunity presents itself. At times this will bring peace, and other times cause offense and disruption. In this interaction, we must be careful not to fall into the exclusion trap, in which the worldly person (whether saved or lost) controls the content of every conversation, demanding we only talk about worldly issues, as Scripture threatens his pagan presuppositions. Having the biblical worldview, we should insert ourselves into daily conversations with others, and in so doing, be a light in a dark place. We should always be respectful, conversational, and never have a fist-in-your-face attitude, as arrogance never helps advance biblical truth (2 Tim 2:24-26).