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God’s Kingdom Is Not of This World

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
October 3, 2022 4:00 am

God’s Kingdom Is Not of This World

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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October 3, 2022 4:00 am

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Secondly, he says, what fellowship has light with darkness?

This talks more about character. Light is truth and virtue. Darkness is lies and sin. Children of light and children of the darkness together in a common cause that is supposed to have any redemptive value? Impossible. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. In 2008, an ABC News poll found that 60 percent of Americans supported the traditional view of marriage. But a recent Gallup survey reported that now, 70 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage. For over 200 years, the majority of the United States believed that marriage is between a man and a woman.

But all of that changed in a 15-year span. Unfortunately, the biblical view of marriage is just one foundational belief that society has jettisoned recently, and who knows what will go next? With so much in the culture that is upside down today, can the Church make a difference?

What role does the Church have? And could God have good and righteous purposes for all this chaos? Hear John MacArthur's encouraging answers today as he continues his look at the world versus the kingdom of God.

And now here's John. Jesus said this in John 18, "'My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be delivered over to the Jews. But as it is, My kingdom is not of this world.'" There's no connection between the kingdom of God and the world. We heard the echo still hearing in our ears of the fact that there is a distinction between the flesh and the Spirit.

Those in the flesh cannot please God. The flesh, the world, the kingdom of darkness, one and the same. Then Jesus said in Luke 17, "'The kingdom of God is in your midst.'" The kingdom is here, because the King is here. He's here alive in His church. So His kingdom has nothing to do with this world. His kingdom is here separate from the world.

I want to help you to understand that in a very practical way, I hope. To begin with, turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 6. This is a death blow to compromise, 2 Corinthians chapter 6. I'm going to read it, starting in verse 14.

See if this is at all confusing. "'Do not be bound together with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial or Satan?

Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we're the temple of the living God.'" Just as God said, "'I will dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord, and do not touch what is unclean. And I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,' says the Lord Almighty." Then verse 14, "'Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in fear of God.'"

This is the most direct and powerful attack on compromise. Two kingdoms. One is marked by righteousness, light, Christ, believers, and God. The other is marked by lawlessness, darkness, Belial, who is Satan, unbelievers, and idols. There is no possibility of those two coming together in any common cause that has any spiritual or eternal significance.

No possibility, none whatsoever. Now one kingdom is old, another is new. One is earthly, another is heavenly. One is deadly, the other is life-giving. One is material, the other is spiritual.

One is lying, the other is truthful. Now Paul supports the command in verse 14 by looking into three areas, which would be obvious, the past, the present, and the future. But let me just start with the past. The very verb, bound together, is drawn out of that Deuteronomy 22, 10 passage about the ox and the donkey, and that reminds us of prohibitions in the Old Testament with regard to Israel. Let me just remind you of things that God said to Israel about being bound together with unbelievers.

So let's look at the past. Let's go back, for example, to the twenty-third chapter of Exodus. We'll just look at verse 31 and 32, the end of the chapter. "'I'll fix your boundary in the Promised Land, from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates. I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.'"

That's pretty serious. God knew the impact of pagans living side by side with the Jewish people. And so He told them, "'You need to drive them out. This is your land.

I gave it to Abraham in a covenant promise. You need to drive them out.'" Verse 32, "'You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.'"

He wanted them driven out because they pose such a threat to the integrity of His people. In the thirty-fourth chapter of Exodus, again, just after replacing the law, "'Watch yourselves,' verse 12, Exodus 34, 12, "'that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you're going, or it will become a snare in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their asherim false worship location. But rather, you are to tear them down, for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous god. Otherwise, you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land.'"

And they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of His sacrifice and you might take some of His daughters for your sons, and His daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods. You have no business making any alliance with the enemy. So don't be bound together with unbelievers isn't something new. It was very clear in the past. What about the present?

Well, look what He says immediately after that in the present tense. Speaking to us, what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness? What fellowship has light with darkness? What harmony has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we're the temple of the living God.

In the present tense, you have these five comparisons. What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Partnership, the word medikē only appears here, but another form of it appears in Luke chapter 5, verse 7, speaking of Peter's business of fishing, the partners in his business.

Another form of it is used in Hebrews to speak of our union with Christ. So He's saying, you don't make common union with righteousness and lawlessness. And lawlessness is a characteristic of unbelievers. They are lawless by definition. Matthew's familiar passage rejecting the religious people where our Lord says, "'Many will say to Me, Lord, Lord, we did this and we did that,' and I'll say, Depart from Me, I never knew you because of your lawless deeds.'" There's no partnership possible between the lawless and the righteous. Secondly, He says, what fellowship has light with darkness? Lawlessness talked about behavior. This talks more about character. What fellowship has light with darkness?

What koinonia? Light is truth and virtue. Darkness is lies and sin. Children of light and children of the darkness together in a common cause that is supposed to have any redemptive value?

Impossible. There's no harmony possible because of behavior. There's no harmony possible because of character. Light and dark are mutually exclusive.

Thirdly, He says, let's go from the behavior to the character to the power. What harmony? By the way, the word harmony is suphonasis. What symphony is there between Christ and Belial, which is an Old Testament name used about a dozen times for Satan?

Really? That is a very jarring statement. What harmony between Christ and Satan? None. It is unthinkable that Satan would be sought to aid in the cause of Christ. We have no connection in behavior or character or power or means. What has a believer in common with an unbeliever? We operate by faith. They operate by sight. We operate by trusting the power of God. They operate by manipulating people. We operate in the Spirit. They operate in the flesh. We have nothing in common in behavior, character, power, means, and lastly, identity.

That's a big word today, isn't it? You get to invent your own identity. Okay, here's ours. What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you're the temple of God. That's who we are.

Anybody asks you, you can tell them. I know they can't see it, but that's who you are. You don't allow the kingdom of darkness to join with the temple of God. That sounds like 1 Samuel 4 where they took the ark of the covenant and put it in the temple of Dagon, and God says, I'm not going to allow that, and crush that idol. We are God's temple, and His temple is holy. Don't be bound together with unbelievers. Don't be bound together with those that are lawless. Don't be bound together with those of the darkness. Don't be bound together with the children of Satan. Don't be bound together with idolaters in any common cause that is supposed to have some spiritual purpose and effect. You cannot advance the kingdom of God that way. Come out from them and be separate. Now that takes us to the future.

This is very powerful. We're the temple of the living God just as God said, verse 16. I will dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord, and do not touch what is unclean, and I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty."

This is not a call to salvation. No, because He just said we're the temple, right? We're the temple of God, so we're believers, and He calls us in chapter 7, verse 1, beloved.

But He says, I will, I will, I will, I will four times. And essentially, those are drawn from a mosaic of Old Testament Scriptures. I will, I will, I will, I will, and then in chapter 7, verse 1, He calls those promises, promises. It's a mosaic of Old Testament promises to the people of God that there is coming a day, listen, when God will walk with His people, and He will be their God, and they will be His people, when He will welcome them and be a father to them, and they will be sons and daughters to Him.

What is He talking about? He's talking about the coming kingdom. Turn to Revelation, and let's go to the kingdom. Chapter 19, after these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven saying, Hallelujah, salvation and glory and power belong to our God, because His judgments are true and righteous, for He has judged the great harlot who is corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bondservants on her. And a second time they said, Hallelujah, her smoke rises up forever and ever.

This is the destruction that has been described in 17 and 18, the destruction of the world, both its religion and its economy. And so they are saying, Hallelujah, and worshiping God who sits on the throne. And a voice came from the throne saying, Give praise to our God, all you His bondservants are slaves, you who fear Him small and great.

And I heard something like the voice of a great multitude, and like the sound of many waters, and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder saying, Hallelujah, for the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. And then in verse 11, I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire. On His head are many diadems. He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He's clothed with a robe dipped in blood. His name is called the Word of God, and the armies who are in heaven clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

Saints and angels were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. And He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God the Almighty, and on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Go to chapter 20. And I saw an angel coming down from heaven holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in His hand. He laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old who is the devil and Satan, and bound Him for a thousand years, threw Him into the abyss, shut it, sealed it over Him so that He would not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years were completed. That's the length of the coming earthly kingdom of Christ when He returns.

Then He would be released for a little time. Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus, and because of the Word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand. And they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were complete. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection.

Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. That's the fulfillment of the promised kingdom based on God's words in the past, based upon His distinction between us and the world in the present, and based upon His kingdom promises. Verse 17 then repeats the mandate, therefore come out from their midst and be separate. That is taken out of Isaiah 52, 11.

Depart, depart, come out, be separate. Do not touch what is unclean, and I'll welcome you into My kingdom in time. And when that kingdom comes, I'll be a father to you, and you'll be sons and daughters to Me.

That's drawn really out of, I think, 1 Chronicles 17. In 1 Chronicles 17 you have the promise of the kingdom, and it's so beautiful I want to read it to you, 1 Chronicles 17, and I'll read maybe starting at verse 7. Now, therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, thus says the Lord, I took you from the pasture from following the sheep to be leader over My people Israel.

I've been with you wherever you've gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you. I'll make you a name like the name of the great ones who are in the earth. I'll appoint a place for My people Israel and plant them so that they may dwell in their own place and not be moved again, and the wicked will not waste them anymore as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and I will subdue all their enemies. And moreover, I tell you that the Lord will build a house for you when your days are fulfilled, that you must go to be with your fathers, He says to David. That I will set up one of your descendants, the Messiah, after you who will be of your sons, and I will establish His kingdom. He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish His throne forever. I will be His father, and He shall be My Son." And in the wonderful words of the apostle Paul, he extends the promise of God to the Messiah to be His Son to all who are in Christ who become sons and daughters of the King and the kingdom. The promise of God to the King as a Son is extended to all of us as sons and daughters. We're headed for the kingdom, folks. Aren't you glad? So one response is acceptable, verse 1, therefore, having these promises.

Do I need to say it? You can't fix the world, beloved. Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness and the fear of God. Don't make alliances with the world.

Get rid of filthiness, mala z'mas. That's only here in the New Testament, but in other literature we find that it had to do with unholy alliances. Don't make unholy alliances.

Perfecting holiness is the verb epiteleo, which means it's eschatological, it's in the final sense. We're headed toward perfect holiness, perfect worship. Live your life in that direction. We need no alliances with Satan to advance the kingdom. We don't have a calling to make people more socially acceptable on their way to eternal hell. Our message is repent and believe the gospel. You're a chosen race. You're a royal priesthood. You're a holy nation. You're a people for God's own possession so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

That's what we do. We don't take up the world's go-nowhere causes. We understand their issues in life. They are never going to be resolved until on a global sense the King arrives to fix everything and reign in righteousness and justice. In the meantime, we can't do anything in the spiritual sense except bring the gospel that transforms the sinner. You were once not a people. You're now the people of God. You had not received mercy.

Now you've received mercy. Behold, I urge you as aliens and strangers abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds as they observe them glorify God in the day of visitation."

What's the day of visitation? The day when God visits in judgment. You live a life proclaiming the excellencies of the One who called you out of darkness into His light. You live a life of excellent behavior, and people will see that life, hear that proclamation, and one day when God visits, they will be taken with you into glory. That's why we're here.

Let's pray. Father, we thank You for the clarity with which Your Word speaks. We thank You that the calling that we have is unmistakable. Peter also said, don't be carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from Your own steadfastness, but grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.

Amen. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. He's titled this brand new series, The World vs. the Kingdom of God. And John, as I listen to you teach on this passage, a question comes to mind. Because we're fighting for righteousness in the world, is it okay to partner with people who aren't Christians, but who share our perspective on moral issues? Or would that violate the command that you looked at today, don't be yoked together with unbelievers? Well, I think it's pretty clear. If you saw a mother and a child being approached by a car and they didn't know the car was coming, you wouldn't say, well, I'm a Christian and maybe they're not Christians. I don't have any obligation.

You'd grab the mom and the child and you'd yank them to safety. I mean, that's the kindness and that's loving and doing good to all men, especially to the household of faith. But I think we do good to all men. I think if you're in a school system and the leadership of that school is bringing transgender grooming into your school and drag queen story time, I think you're a good neighbor.

If you rise up with other neighbors and say, we don't want to allow this, I want to help protect your children, I think this does not mean isolation. Anything noble, anything good, anything that produces well-being, anything beneficial, we need to be leading the parade. And I think history would show that, because morality, as we know it in the Western world, is a product of Judeo-Christian biblical ethics and biblical instruction. So we know that there is a common grace element that God gives to people through his law and through the love and affection and care and concern of his own living people in the world. So I think as far as life in the world, we need to be those who do everything within our power to protect the people around us, to be gracious and kind, to fight the battles that threaten them on a temporal level. Look, you wouldn't say that if a Christian wanted to be a policeman that was wrong because that's joining with the human government. No, there's a role that government plays, and a policeman is actually a servant of the Lord, a servant of God, it says in Romans 13. So insofar as we help and demonstrate love and show the same kind—I think the illustration is the same kind of affection for the unconverted that Jesus showed when he healed the multitudes.

This is amazing. He didn't ask them to believe in him before he healed them. That was the compassion of God.

That's very different than cooperating in a spiritual enterprise where we're working together in the spiritual realm in the kingdom of God with people who aren't even part of the kingdom. Yeah, thank you, John. That's a timely answer. And friend, if you're benefiting from John's current series, if it's helping you see how you can make a difference for the kingdom in today's difficult world, we'd love to hear about it. Jot us a note and send it our way today. You can email your feedback to letters at gty.org.

Again, that's letters at gty.org. Or if you prefer regular mail, write to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412. And remember to take advantage of the thousands of free resources you'll find available at our website, gty.org. At the Grace to You blog, you can learn about topics like worship, the person of Christ, evangelism, and much more. You can also read daily devotionals from John and follow along with the reading plan from the MacArthur Daily Bible. And don't forget, John's entire sermon archive, including his brand new series, The World vs. the Kingdom of God, is available to download in MP3 and transcript format. All of that and much more is free at gty.org. And thanks for praying for John and the staff and for remembering that we are supported financially by friends like you. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson encouraging you to be here tomorrow when John continues looking at The World vs. the Kingdom of God with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-28 17:28:32 / 2022-12-28 17:38:21 / 10

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