What Does it Mean to Be In This World, Yet Not Of This World?

What is the “world”? Is this word kosmos in the New Testament Greek speaking of the earth? Not most of the time; rather it is speaking of the systems on this orb that are ruled over by “the prince of this world” and Jesus said this about it:

“…for the prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go from here.” (John 14:30-31, KJ2000)

Oh yes, dear Christian, “let us rise up and go” from this world system, its emotions, its drives and its ways of thinking and acting! A brother sent me this quote recently,

“Christianity began in Palestine as an experience, it moved to Greece and became a philosophy, it moved to Italy and became an institution, it moved to Europe and became a culture, and it moved to America and became a business! We’ve left the experience [of Holy Spirit guided lives] long behind.” [1]

So true! Speaking for the opposite of this in a positive light, T. Austin- Sparks wrote:

You only need to read John to see how unattached everything is, how everything is lifted clean out of this world, and everything is bound up with the fact that Christ is in heaven, and that the Lord’s people are here, but not here; here, but not known; in the world, but not of it; a mystery people in this world so far as the world is concerned… unrecognized, unknown. And yet by that very means and for that very reason, the most potent force that this universe knows: the spiritual, hidden, secret people of God in this earth. To take hold of Christianity and mold it, and shape it, and systematize it, and crystallize it, and make it some mighty movement here; with its roots here, with all its associations such as man can see, appreciate and approve; to register itself upon the ordinary consciousness of this world as being something; all of that is contrary to the Word of God and is contrary to spiritual life and spiritual power. Christ is in heaven, and we are lifted out, translated, seated together with Him in the heavenlies. Our present purpose in this world is testimony only, by which others will be taken out of the nations, a people for His name. – T. Austin-Sparks [2]

It seems that every attack of the enemy is an effort to bring our focus and thoughts away from God and HIS kingdom and down to this world and the system that rules over it. Think about our daily existence. Aren’t we consumed with the cares and pleasures of this life? How much of our thoughts are focused on Jesus who sits at the right hand of God and His Spirit who abides in us? Even if we have thoughts and works that are by Him, how long until the enemy redirects those thoughts and works down to this worldly level?  Isn’t that what Satan was trying to do when Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness?

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. ”But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him,  “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Matt 4:1-11, ESV2011)

Jesus had just been Baptized by John the baptizer and empowered with the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the dove at His baptism that had just taken place, and the Spirit lead Him into the wilderness. The same thing happened to Paul after His encounter with the Living Christ on the road to Damascus. He spent the following three years in the Damascus wilderness. In our new found zeal and excitement after becoming Spirit filled, we want to run right out and do exploits “for God.” Yet the most important thing Jesus (yes even He had to learn obedience through the things He suffered) and Paul learned was that there is no good thing in our flesh, and as Jesus said, “apart from Me you can do NOTHING!”

In Christ’s temptation Satan was trying to get Him to do anything, absolutely ANYTHING apart from hearing it from His Father, but He was not moved from His place IN the Father. This temptation was constantly put before Him all through the gospel accounts, even by His disciples. Satan knows that if we are bent on doing God’s work, he must pull that work down to an earthly level. So what happens? We are first tempted to ask men for the support of “our ministry” so we can do the work and still eat and have a roof over our heads, right? Young aspiring people who want to go out and preach for God are encouraged to go around to the churches and get pledges from people to support their work as missionaries or find a pulpit to preach from where the people will support them. “And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” How many of us seek First the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness and [let] all these other things be added unto us?

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Oh yes! We must go to the holy city and do our works there! The people of that city cry out, “So you are a Christian? What church are you going to? Who is your pastor? Who is your covering?” The city of Christendom is there waiting with its embrace that squeezes the life of the Spirit out of you until you are conformed into their image and not the image of Christ. There is room for lives ruled by the Spirit there.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

I remember a “holy man” of renown in our area whom I met with one time in my spiritual youth. After I told Him what God put on my heart he said, “You have a good message, but if you would just tone it down and soften it a bit you would find more Christian platforms from which to get your message out.” Yes, the devil took me to that high mountain, the mountain of Christendom, and tempted me to tailor what God had put in me so that I could have all their kingdoms open to me. I refused and as a result it is like Sparks wrote.

“Everything is lifted clean out of this world, and everything is bound up with the fact that Christ is in heaven, and that the Lord’s people are here, but not here; here, but not known; in the world, but not of it; a mystery people in this world so far as the world is concerned… unrecognized, unknown. And yet by that very means and for that very reason, the most potent force that this universe knows: the spiritual, hidden, secret people of God in this earth.”

This is why Jesus said even of Himself, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24, ESV2011)

In Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, a town filled with churches and church Christians, I am totally unknown, especially among all the pastors and potentates of these churches or their people. Yet, as I wait on the leading of the Lord it is His “little ones” that He puts me in touch with at a restaurant here or a grocery store there in my daily life, even on the street in front of my house as when I talked to a young man working on the sewer line one day. God shows up with His divine appointments as we keep our eyes upon HIS kingdom more often that we realize. God is not about pulpits. Jesus didn’t spent all His time in synagogues or in the temple. In fact, more than once the leaders and the mob wanted to kill Him because He spoke the truth.

No, if we really do seek HIS kingdom and not the kingdoms of men or try to establish our own “ministry” kingdom, we will be “known, yet unknown” just as Paul said. In America everything is about grandeur-ism! Bigger is better. “I want it now and I want it biggy sized!” It’s all about “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.” And that is the mindset we come into the kingdom of God with. This is why the flesh has to be nailed to the cross of Christ. The way of the cross is all about decrease that He might increase in and through us.The carnal man seeks after a sign, something tangible to the five senses. He wants something he can see and put his hands on and possess, and so did the leaders of the Jews. They wanted Him to establish a worldly kingdom that they could be part of and rule over.

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20-21, ESV2011)

Dear saints, the kingdom of God is not found in bricks and mortar or in Christian City. It is being built in seclusion in the midst of us, in our hearts as we seek FIRST HIS Kingdom. Peter wrote,

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1Pet 2:4-5, ESV2011)

Dear readers, may you be found standing IN Him alone in all your lives then you will have done all to stand against the temptations of the devil.

[1] https://quotefancy.com/paul-smith-quotes

]2] https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002953.html

11 comments on “What Does it Mean to Be In This World, Yet Not Of This World?

  1. Thank you, Michael, for this explanation of the the word cosmos, that was so important. I read the question of a young believer lately who was wondering why she should hate the world, thinking it was creation itself. What you wrote about the Kingdom of God inside us is so true, too. It was just yesterday that I found an interesting quote by T. Austin-Sparks where he expounded on the meaning of the anointing (i.e., the government of the Holy Spirit that we are to follow always). TAS wrote,

    “In your profession, in your business, in your home, and in your assembly, as a part of it, this is the law: that there’s something more than the thing itself. You are called into a vocation if you have received the Holy Spirit, and that can give meaning to life. If we take ourselves out of the hands of the Holy Spirit, and choose our own way, and go where we think we should go, and make our own decisions in these things, very often we get into a back-water, we are just out of the way, and there’s nothing coming of it. We have got to be very, very sure that we seek first the Kingdom of God – that is only another way of saying that we move by the Spirit in what we do, or we might just find ourselves just out there, with no more meaning than what we are doing day by day, for time! This is the meaning of the anointing.” (emphasis in caps added)

    https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/004829.html

    Briefly, we could also say that if we follow the Spirit Who is in Heaven and in our hearts as well (from where He leads us), we will no longer be of this world as we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies, too. It is like Jacob’s ladder… We go with our spirits that are indwelt by Him up and down and up and down on the Son of Man (cf. Jn 1:51).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      By the way, that is a great quote from Sparks. I think he was saying the same thing as I did above in his own word. 🙂 You mentioned John 1:51 and made it personal,

      And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51, ESV2011)

      Hmmm. The word translated “angels” is the Greek word “angelos” which litterally means “messenger[s].” I know that our Messenger from God is the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth just as Jesus promised because Jesus lives within us. God has made every provision for us to be in touch with and experience His throne room through the Son for He prayed,

      “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21, ESV2011)

      Thanks for sharing His kingdom within you with us, dear sister,

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are very welcome, Michael. 🙂

        Yes, I made John 1:51 personal for all of us, my brother. I offer you another quote from our brother T. Austin-Sparks here of which I hope it might clarify my thoughts a bit. I just pasted this excerpt from the book “Christ Our All (1935), chapter 4, “An Open Heaven”

        “The Holy Spirit is given us on that ground. He came upon the Lord Jesus after His baptism in the Jordan. The heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. Now Christ risen means an open heaven. The Spirit of the Anointing comes upon us because the crucified One is risen. He comes to us out of an open heaven which the Son of God has opened for us.

        “But what was the value of the anointing? It is to bring us unto a heavenly union with God. The Lord Jesus said: “When he, the Spirit… is come, he shall guide you into all the truth.” And John confirms this in saying: “The anointing which ye received… teaches you concerning all things.” That is represented by the angels ascending and descending. The Holy Spirit is communicating with us, but Christ is the ladder, reaching from earth to heaven. Where is that ladder? It is not in the world. The ladder is set up in our hearts. It is Christ in our hearts. There is an open way from heaven in our hearts, Christ Himself, leading us into the very presence of God. The Holy Spirit moves in relation to Christ to bring us into communion with Christ, just as Christ is in communion with His Father.

        “The all-sufficiency of Christ is secured for us on that basis. We are in the heavenlies, because Christ is in us. If joined to His person the limitations are gone. There is a direct and immediate communion with God, and the Holy Spirit can reveal to us heavenly things.” (Emphasis in bold added)

        https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002936.html

        Your sister,
        Susanne

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Susanne, You wrote, “I read the question of a young believer lately who was wondering why she should hate the world, thinking it was creation itself.” This is a common point of confusion among Christian. But it brought to mind a quote from Psalms that Paul quoted,

    For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” (1Cor 10:26, ESV2011)

    The Greek word for earth here is ge meaning the physical earth we live on. When God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it, He said, “It is good.” and when all was finished He rested. But when the translators translated kosmos to world they did did not mean the earth, but the order that the world is arranged in. In our book, “The Kingdom or the Kosmos” we explained this in greater detail,

    Jesus spoke of this prince in John 14:30. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the prince of this world approaches. He has no power over me.” (NLT)

    Satan is the prince/ruler of this world and it is the prerogative of rulers (Greek arche) to set up the perimeters and style of their kingdom as it pleases them [These are called principalities]. The prince of this world has ordered his kingdom in a manner that serves his interests “The course of this world [is] according to the prince of the powers of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience.” (See Ephesians 2:2-3)

    The word world in these passages is a translation from the Greek word kosmos, which means system, order or arrangement. W.E. Vine defines kosmos as the “present condition of human affairs, in alienation from and opposition to God.” Hence, the world Jesus was referring to is not the creation of God but the vanity creation has been subjected to, a system of government that all creation, including mankind, groans under to this very day (see Romans 8:20-22). [1]

    Thus we have two kingdoms that are opposed to one another within us, the kingdom of God which abides in our born from above spirits and the kingdom of Satan that works in us through our flesh (the carnal man, the old Adam) and as result we “groan in travail awaiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.” This is why Jesus who was not of the old Adam could say, “The prince of this world is come and he has found nothing in me.”

    Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1Cor 15:45, ESV2011)

    [1] http://www.awildernessvoice.com/Kosmos.html

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Roland says:

    Recently asked my 40yo daughter why He allows the various sufferings to be experienced on this globe
    (or should it rather be GLOB? ) caused by this current world-wide tyranny. She simply replied, “Cuz evidently He still is graciously and lovingly honoring His promise that a remnant will remain …”. Hallelujah!

    Like

  4. Michael says:

    Yes, my brother, we “enter the kingdom of heaven through much tribulation.” It is God’s method of separating soul from spirit within us so His Spirit may reign. It also separates the sheep from the goats. You have a wise daughter.👍😇🕊️

    Like

    • Roland says:

      She’s gradually getting there (ain’t we all? <smirk?). She escaped from the clutch of institution "church"ing abt 2 decades ago, took my old self in a decade later, sold her place of 10ac in FL, and we moved to AL on 40ac of clay&pond. They presently manage a dozen or so Hereford cattle while I pray, sleep, fiddle on this `puter, and eat.

      BTW, you and I spiritually met via Glen P. in northern CA. I'm the carbon based dude in a wheelchair. Remember?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Yes, Roland, I remember you from before your move. You, Glen and I had a three way going for a while. I am glad to hear that you and your daughter have both gotten untangled from that yoke of bondage, for it is for freedom Christ has set us free. Have you heard anything from Glen and Anita lately? I guess I will have to call them. Thanks for writing.

        Bless you and your household IN Christ,
        Michael

        Like

  5. Roland says:

    No; haven’t heard anything from them, BUT; His Spirit is joining us all. He and Anita are doing fine, albeit his physical condition …

    Liked by 1 person

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