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The Church Has No Fellowship with the World

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
May 2, 2024 4:00 am

The Church Has No Fellowship with the World

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Grace To You
John MacArthur

Children of light and children of darkness together in some kind of cause?

Not possible. Not possible with the view of advancing the kingdom. You can be in a business together, you can be on a team together, you can work together, but you can't engage in a common alliance with the view of advancing the kingdom. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. In the early 20th century, a movement swept across Christianity that taught that the Church should focus on fighting alcoholism and poverty and other social ills. Now, while those problems deserve attention, should they be at the heart of the Church's mission? What does Scripture say about the purpose of the Church?

Why was it established, and how should we as Christians interact with the world? Consider that today as John continues his study on how to serve the Lord and flourish spiritually, even amid the social chaos that is everywhere today. John calls this study the world versus the kingdom of God, and now here is John with today's lesson. I've been preaching from this pulpit on the invisible kingdom, trying to distinguish the difference between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, and obviously they're diametrically opposed to each other.

We've tried to help to understand the foundational realities of what the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God and the kingdom of light is all about. And it comes down to, I think, two defining statements, one in John 18 where Jesus says, "'My kingdom is not of this world.' If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight so that I would not be delivered over to the Jews. But as it is, My kingdom is not from here." So it is a kingdom that exists parallel to the kingdom of this world, to the kingdom of darkness, but it doesn't mingle. And the other thing that our Lord said is in the 17th chapter of Luke where He said, "'The kingdom of God is in your midst.'" And that is to say that the kingdom is here because the King is here, and wherever the King reigns, the kingdom exists. And that means it comes down to individual believers' hearts as well as the collective believers in the church.

So we are, as it were, a kingdom here in the world, not of the world, alien to the world, existing in a parallel universe, imperceptible to the world. Now we could talk about those passages, but it's another one that I really want you to look at with me. Second Corinthians, chapter 6, and a very familiar passage, but I think overlooked to the detriment of the church, certainly in this period of time. Second Corinthians 6, 14, the opening statement of verse 14 doesn't need a lot of explanation, "'Do not be bound together with unbelievers.'"

Is that hard to get, hard to grasp? "'Do not be bound together with unbelievers.'" It's an unqualified statement. "'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 what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are 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 1 of chapter 7, "'Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness and the fear of God.'" And the defilement is the defilement of those alliances. And Satan always seeks to disrupt the work of God, and does that by joining the church to the kingdom of darkness.

It's in the parables of Matthew 13 where Jesus says the devil will come and sow tares among the wheat. Or by seducing, either the devil sows unbelievers in the church or seduces the church to make alliances with the world. So what is the church doing in joining common cause with the world, common cause with its visions of truth and reality, with its God-hating, Christ-rejecting attitudes? Paul's passage here is very, very powerful, so let's dig in a little bit.

I want you to look at it from the three views that are the most obvious, past, present, and future. He's making reference to the past, if only in an oblique sense when we open with verse 14, do not be bound together with unbelievers. I draw that from Deuteronomy 22, 10, and that takes me to the Old Testament. Isaiah 30, "'Woe to the rebellious children,' declares the Lord, who execute a plan, but not mine."

It sounds like Matthew, doesn't it? Your interest is in not God's, but man's agenda. "'Who execute a plan, but not mine.

Who make an alliance, but not of my spirit, in order to add sin to sin. Who proceed down to Egypt without consulting me to take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh.'" This is getting political protection for the people of God. "'Seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt.'"

How bizarre is that? "'Therefore, the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt your humiliation. For their princes are at Zoan, and their ambassadors arrive at Haines. Everyone will be ashamed because of a people who cannot profit them, who are not for help or profit, but for shame and for reproach.'" All you're going to get out of alliances with Egypt is shame and reproach, and you're going to make clear to the world who's watching that you do not trust your God. So in chapter 31 he says, "'Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses and trust in chariots, because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong. They do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord. Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster, and does not retract His words, but will arise against the house of evildoers and against the help of the workers of iniquity. Now the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses are flesh and not spirit. So the Lord will stretch out His hand, and he who helps will stumble, and he who has helped will fall, and all of them will come to an end together.'" You get nothing from an alliance with the world.

You get nothing from trusting in worldly leaders, politicians. So that's the past view implied by verse 14. Let's go back to 2 Corinthians. Do not be bound together, unequally yoked with unbelievers. That reminds us of those Old Testament prohibitions.

And you know that God did so many things to isolate Israel. They had dietary laws. They had clothing requirements.

They had calendar requirements. All of those things were an effort to keep them protected from the darkness, which eventually sadly engulfed them. Now let's move into the present tense, okay? So Paul is now speaking to us, to the church. What partnership have righteousness and lawlessness? What fellowship has light with darkness? Or 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 are the temple of the living God. Present tense, five comparisons.

It's almost like you want to say, okay, I get it before you get to number five. Five comparisons speak to the issue of life in the church. What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Partnership is metakē. It's used only here in the New Testament, but it's related to a word that is used in Luke 5 to speak of Peter's business partners in fishing, and it's used in Hebrews chapter 3 to speak of our union with Christ. So this is a partnership that is a genuine partnership in a common effort, a common effort.

It's not as if you're sitting next to somebody watching something. It's partnership in a common effort. Righteousness can have no partnership with lawlessness. Matthew 7 23, Jesus, and you remember this well, said, you will never ever enter into My kingdom because you are lawless.

You are lawless. In 1 John chapter 3, that definitive distinction between the people of the darkness and the people of light goes like this. Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins. No one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

Little children, make sure no one deceives you. The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. The one who practices sin is of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin because the seed abides in Him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. By this, the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious. Anyone who doesn't practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who doesn't love his brother.

Mutually exclusive. So the first statement is what alliance, what common cause can righteousness have with lawlessness? Secondly, what fellowship has light with darkness? The first one has to do with character.

Character is manifest by righteousness or lawlessness. This one goes a little deeper and has to do with nature. What fellowship, koinonia, has light with darkness?

These things are by definition opposites. Light is a metaphor for truth and virtue. Darkness is a metaphor for lies and iniquity. Children of light and children of darkness together in some kind of cause?

Not possible. Not possible with the view of advancing the kingdom. You can be in a business together, you can be on a team together, you can work together, but you can't engage in a common alliance with the view of advancing the kingdom. So first of all, he's referring to behavior, righteousness, and lawlessness. Then he goes back to character, light and darkness. Then he speaks of power.

What is the difference between the two power sources? What harmony? And that is actually the word sumphonasis from which we get symphony. What harmony has Christ with Belial?

Now you're talking about power. What alliance does the power of Christ need to make with the power of the devil? Belial is an ancient name for Satan.

It means worthless. It's used about twelve times in the Old Testament. It's unthinkable that you would link up Satan with Christ. Unthinkable that you would somehow think as a believer preaching the gospel, you need to make an alliance with atheistic, godless, Christless, vengeful, hate-filled, racist ideology and think those two go together and go so far as to say that's part of the gospel.

That's impossible. You don't advance the kingdom of God by any alliance with any common cause in the world, even those that may have some elements of validity. The only way the world is ever going to change is when the hearts of people change, right? The Lord wants us to view cooperation with the world in this way. It's joining Christ to Satan. Or He says, what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? So we go from the behavior, righteousness and lawlessness, to the character light and darkness, to the power of Christ and Belial, to the means. The world operates by sight, we operate by faith.

So what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? They operate purely on the temporal level, we operate on the spiritual level. For Christians who live by faith in the Lord, our trust is in Him, our faith is in Him, and that's why we don't swap the fountain of living waters for broken pots.

It offers us nothing. We function in the supernatural by the power of God, the power of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. All that the world can do is function on a natural level. We trust in God, they trust in themselves. We trust in the Spirit, they trust in the flesh. They trust in political power, military power, ideological force, financial power, we trust in God. And lastly, there's opposite identities.

That's a big word, identity. He says, what agreement has the temple of God, verse 16, with idols? This is like in Ezekiel 8. Remember when Ezekiel had a vision of the temple and he saw scribblings of idols in the temple, and then he saw false gods in the temple. It's like in 1 Samuel 4 through 6 where the Philistines had captured the ark of the covenant and they put it in the house of Dagon, and God will not be alongside an idol. You remember the story, the idol was knocked over the next morning. When they came back the next morning, they set it up.

And the next morning after that, it was knocked over and its head was cut off and it was dismembered. We have no agreement. We are the temple of the living God. We are the temple of the living God.

What an amazing statement. Temple of the living God. What does the temple of the living God have to do with idols?

What agreement? That means union. Temple here is naos, means the holy of holies. We are the temple, right? The Spirit of God dwells in us.

John 14, 20, Jesus said those amazing words, I'm in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you. Identity is a buzzword, isn't it, today? Everybody wants to talk about racial identity, sexual identity, gender identity. But we have an identity too, and that is we're the temple of the living God.

It is true. I am not what I appear. I appear as a man, but that is my material identity.

My true unseen actual identity is that I am the temple of the living God. Christ is in me. Christ lives in me, and I cannot join Christ to an idol. Paul even talks about not joining Christ to a harlot, doesn't he? So don't be bound together with unbelievers. Don't be bound together as the righteous with the lawless. Don't be bound together as the light with the darkness. Don't be bound together as those who are Christ with Satan. Don't be bound together with idolaters when you are the temple of the living God.

You cannot do any of those things and advance the kingdom. There's one more climactic truth, and it's in the last section here, and it's the future. This has been overlooked a lot, I think, so this might be a fresh insight for you. Picking it up in verse 16 where 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. Therefore having these promises." These are promises.

I will, I will, I will, I will four times, four times. These are promises. You notice there that these are quotes from the Old Testament, right? And they are a mosaic of Old Testament promises to the people of God, listen carefully, related to the kingdom.

Did you get that? Related to the kingdom, Christ's millennial kingdom. They're drawn out of kingdom passages. Like Jeremiah 24, "'I will set My eyes on them for good. I will bring them again to this land. I will build them up.

I will plant them. I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord, and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.'" That's what this is referring to. When he talks about dwelling and walking, he's not talking to nonbelievers and calling them to salvation. He already talks about us as believers and part of Christ, and delight, and righteousness. He's speaking to believers and saying that the promise of God is of a future kingdom. Jeremiah 31, 33, "'This is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel. After those days,' says the Lord, "'I will put My law within their hearts. I will write it, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'" Familiar words from Ezekiel 37, "'I'll make a covenant of peace with them. It will be an everlasting covenant with them.

I will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.'" In other words, what he is saying here is all of these kingdom promises mean the purposes of God are on track to be culminated in the reign of Jesus Christ on earth. In other words, it will be set right, but not by any efforts that we make in alliance with the world.

It will be set right when the King of Kings comes. So because of what God told His people in the past about separation from the world, and because of what He says to us as the church about separation from the world, and because of the future plan of God in which God will do the separating and He will establish the kingdom of righteousness and justice and peace and joy, the command to us there in verse 17, "'Come out from their midst and be separate,' says the Lord, and do not touch what is unclean.'" That is drawn right out of Isaiah 52, 11, the chapter prior to the great chapter 53. This is a call to separation, a call to separation.

And the day will come when the Lord will welcome us into His presence as sons and daughters who will reign with Him in His eternal kingdom. So we cleanse ourselves, chapter 7 verse 1, from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness and the fear of God. What does holiness mean?

It means separation, doesn't it? So we separate, we separate, perfecting, epitaleo, that is an eschatological term, anticipating the perfection to come in the kingdom, anticipating that all the rights will be established by God who is perfectly righteous. He's speaking to the church, it's in the plural, let us cleanse ourselves from all melismos, all the unholy alliances. We need no alliances with Satan to advance the kingdom.

All that does is corrupt the kingdom. Our calling is clear, shine the light into the darkness, don't mingle with the darkness. Mark 1 15 makes it very simple, tell people, repent and believe in the gospel.

That's our calling. The only way that we can make a difference in the world is by preaching the gospel, right, so that hearts are transformed. Father, we thank You for the time to think about these things, and we know that Jesus never entered into social action, Paul never did, and neither did any of the other apostles. They knew the only hope was a changed heart.

It didn't do any good to rearrange sinners in their sinful condition. Help us, Lord, to focus on preaching the gospel and the gospel alone and preach Your truth, Your Word, unleashing it one verse at a time, as it were, so that we are faithful to declare the whole counsel of God. That's our prayer, we pray in our Savior's name. Amen. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary.

John's current study on how to engage the culture the biblical way is titled The World Versus the Kingdom of God. Well, the day is coming when all will be made right. And of course, we all long for that day. But hopefully, John, this study has helped people see that we can be encouraged even in these difficult days. God is still on the throne. We are the people He has put here for this time, and He promises to give us what we need to see things through.

I mean, that is the essential reality of the history of redemption. Christ triumphs, truth triumphs, the Word of God triumphs, God triumphs. It's going to end exactly the way God designed it from the very beginning. His purpose cannot be thwarted. He says that He will fulfill all His good purpose. So there's nothing to fear in the ultimate sense, even though getting to that final victory has its challenges.

Well, we're drawing this study to a close. We've titled it The World Versus the Kingdom of God. And over the last three weeks, we've looked at a number of Bible passages highlighting some main points more than once. Luke 17, for example, where Jesus tells the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God is already in their midst. And John 18, where Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world. In other words, for the time being on earth, there are two kingdoms existing in parallel to one another, the Kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of light, and the Kingdom of the world, which is the kingdom of darkness. This is a series that encourages believers with the truth that God is in control of everything. And we're right where we are supposed to be.

We are God's people for this time in redemptive history. There's significant amount of detail that we were not able to cover in these broadcasts, by the way, because of the constraints of airtime. So let me encourage you to download the series.

The series title is the same, The World Versus the Kingdom of God. You can download it on MP3. Seven downloads. Transcripts also are available. And as always, the MP3s and transcripts are free. And remember also the new book we've been telling you about called Truth Triumphs, a great complement to the series we just wrapped up. And you can order copies today from Grace to You. Yes, friend, these truths are only going to get more relevant as our world heads further and further away from God. To download John's series, The World Versus the Kingdom of God, or to order a copy of his new book called Truth Triumphs, contact us today. You can go to our website, gty.org, to download the MP3s for this entire series, as well as the transcripts.

And as John said, there was a lot of material in The World Versus the Kingdom of God that we didn't have time to air. It's content that you're sure to benefit from. You can find it all at our website for free to download, gty.org. And remember to get a copy of John's brand new book called Truth Triumphs. Cost for the book is $19 and shipping is free on U.S. orders. To order Truth Triumphs, call 800-55-GRACE during normal business hours.

That's Monday through Friday, 730 to 4 o'clock p.m. Pacific time. Or you can shop online anytime at gty.org. And when you're at the website, gty.org, make sure you take advantage of the thousands of free resources that are there. You can watch Grace to You television. You can read helpful articles on the Grace to You blog. You can download any sermon from John's entire sermon archive. That's more than 3,600 messages. The web address one more time, gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson with a question. Do you have to reject science to believe the Bible? Find out tomorrow with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-02 05:40:00 / 2024-05-02 05:49:41 / 10

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