Jesus did an amazing thing for us when He came to earth, lived, died, resurrected and ascended back to heaven. That series of words – came, lived, died, resurrected, ascended – capture the essence of the victory of God’s intervention into His world, corrupted by Satan’s actions, to redeem it back into the glorious place that He had created and the Kingdom that He intended to reign. I love how Colossians 1:13-14 expresses what Jesus did:
“For He has rescued us and has drawn us to Himself from the dominion of darkness and has transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption [because of His sacrifice, resulting in] the forgiveness of our sins [and the cancellation of sins’ penalty].”
What this verse tells me, conceptually, is that even though I live here on earth, inhabited and influenced by Satan and his followers and surrounded by those who do not yet know God through Christ, I am at the same time living in a different reality because I am also in the Kingdom that Jesus established when He came. That fact is hard to comprehend, but it may not be so difficult to measure.
Ephesians 5:8-11 help us to be very specific in our expectations for living this new kingdom life. After admonishing the Ephesian church in 5:1 to become imitators of God, as well-beloved children [imitate their father], Paul continues: “for once you were darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [live as those who are native-born to the Light} (for the fruit [the effect, the result] of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn [by experience] what is pleasing to the Lord] and letting your life-styles be examples of what is most acceptable to Him – your behavior expressing gratitude to God for your salvation]. Do not participate in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness, but instead expose them [by exemplifying personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character]; ….
A good bit of Ephesians 4 tells us exactly what we should be putting off and putting on:
- Rejecting all falsehood [whether lying, defrauding, telling half-truths, spreading rumors, any such as these], speak truth each one with his neighbor …
- Be angry [at sin – at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down.
- And do not give the devil an opportunity [to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness].
- The thief [who has become a believer] must no longer steal, but instead he must work hard [making an honest living], producing that which is good with his own hands, so that he will have something to share with those in need.
- Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].
- Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence].
- Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely, just as God in Christ also forgave you.
How easy it is with the help of the Holy Spirit to question, ‘Is this attitude, word, action characteristic of the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of darkness?’ I am thankful for the truth of 1 John 1:9 when we slip away, even for a moment, into the kingdom of darkness!