Living in The Kingdom of Light
In the last article on the Rebirth, we saw that there are two spiritual kingdoms operating in the world today: the kingdom or rule of darkness, and the kingdom of light. Satan is the ruler of the kingdom of darkness, and Jesus Christ is the ruler of the kingdom of light. The spiritual kingdom of light is more powerful, just as in the natural realm when light and darkness collide, light always overcomes darkness immediately. We enter into the rule of Jesus, the kingdom of light, through spiritual rebirth. Spiritual rebirth is necessary to enter into the kingdom of light, and results in eternal life and ultimately perfect health. It also has tremendous benefits for the present time. So once we are born again and have left the kingdom of darkness and entered the kingdom of light, it is time to take a look around and see what this new kingdom is all about!
This article will just be a brief survey regarding living in the kingdom of light, the kingdom of Jesus. The most comprehensive record of life in the kingdom of light is the New Testament portion of the Bible. The New Testament record of the Bible starts with the miraculous birth of Jesus, the record of his life, ministry, teachings, death, and resurrection, and then continues on with the writings of the first believers who began to walk in the kingdom of light after Jesus was resurrected and went up into heaven. The New Testament record contains many stories of the kingdom of light invading the kingdom of darkness and setting people free from their sicknesses and problems. To truly understand all the truths and benefits of living in the kingdom of light, a thorough reading and understanding of the New Testament is essential.
Our King: The Resurrected Jesus
So as we begin our survey about living in the kingdom of light, the first person we must consider is our King! Jesus is the ruler of the kingdom of light. The apostle Paul wrote a very nice description of our King and our relationship to him in his letter to the Colossian believers:
May you be made strong with all the strength which comes from his glorious power, so that you may be able to endure everything with patience. And with joy give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to have your share of what God has reserved for his people in the kingdom of light. He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us safe into the kingdom of his dear Son, by whom we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the first-born Son, superior to all created things. For through him God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and authorities. God created the whole universe through him and for him. Christ existed before all things, and in union with him all things have their proper place. He is the head of his body, the church; he is the source of the body's life. He is the first-born Son, who was raised from death, in order that he alone might have the first place in all things. For it was by God's own decision that the Son has in himself the full nature of God. Through the Son, then, God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself. God made peace through his Son's blood on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven. At one time you were far away from God and were his enemies because of the evil things you did and thought. But now, by means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends, in order to bring you, holy, pure, and faultless, into his presence. (Colossians 1:11-22)
There are many important things written here about Christ, and we have discussed some of them in previous articles. Notice also that this passage states that he is "head of his body, the church." The terms "body" and "church" here could be used interchangeably with the "kingdom of light." It refers to all those who have entered the kingdom through spiritual rebirth. The believers in Christ are often referred to as members of his "body," or collectively as the "church." The English word "church" can have many shades of meaning, and in today's culture it usually refers to a building in a geographical location. But that is not the normal meaning in the New Testament writings. The original word from the Greek language, the language that the New Testament was written in, is "ecclesia," which literally means a "called out assembly." The emphasis is on the members and their relationship to each other, not a physical location. Christ's "church" is a living and operating organism, with Christ as the head directing everything. In this sense, the term "body" is probably a better term to understand in our relationship to Christ and to one another. Here is how the apostle Paul described it in his letter to the believers in Corinth, which is part of the New Testament Bible:
Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body, even though it is made up of different parts. In the same way, all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or free, have been baptized into the one body by the same Spirit, and we have all been given the one Spirit to drink. For the body itself is not made up of only one part, but of many parts. If the foot were to say, "Because I am not a hand, I don't belong to the body," that would not keep it from being a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, "Because I am not an eye, I don't belong to the body," that would not keep it from being a part of the body. If the whole body were just an eye, how could it hear? And if it were only an ear, how could it smell? As it is, however, God put every different part in the body just as he wanted it to be. There would not be a body if it were all only one part! As it is, there are many parts but one body. So then, the eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" Nor can the head say to the feet, "Well, I don't need you!" On the contrary, we cannot do without the parts of the body that seem to be weaker; and those parts that we think aren't worth very much are the ones which we treat with greater care; while the parts of the body which don't look very nice are treated with special modesty, which the more beautiful parts do not need. God himself has put the body together in such a way as to give greater honor to those parts that need it. And so there is no division in the body, but all its different parts have the same concern for one another. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is praised, all the other parts share its happiness. All of you are Christ's body, and each one is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
So each one of us is uniquely created and gifted to be a part of the kingdom of light. To experience all that God has for us and to enjoy good health, we must live in the proper relationship with Jesus as our head, and in service to one another within the body/church. Much of the New Testament is composed of letters written to believers (churches) that gathered in certain areas, teaching about these concepts.
Our Citizenship: Heaven
We, however, are citizens of heaven, and we eagerly wait for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from heaven. (Philippians 3:20) Paul's letter to the believers in Philippi
When we are born again into God's family and enter the kingdom of light, we obtain a new citizenship and a new future. We become citizens of heaven, and aliens (or foreigners) here on earth. We remain here for a purpose, until either Jesus returns physically to earth to setup a new physical kingdom, or until we go through physical death and go to heaven to be with Jesus. But we no longer belong here on earth. It is not our permanent home. Therefore, we should never allow our hearts to become too attached to earthly things, since they will all be destroyed in the future anyway. That includes our physical bodies. They are a part of the natural realm, and we will have new spiritual bodies in heaven.
The first Adam, made of earth, came from the earth; the second Adam came from heaven. Those who belong to the earth are like the one who was made of earth; those who are of heaven are like the one who came from heaven. Just as we wear the likeness of the man made of earth, so we will wear the likeness of the Man from heaven. What I mean, friends, is that what is made of flesh and blood cannot share in God's Kingdom, and what is mortal cannot possess immortality. Listen to this secret truth: we shall not all die, but when the last trumpet sounds, we shall all be changed in an instant, as quickly as the blinking of an eye. For when the trumpet sounds, the dead will be raised, never to die again, and we shall all be changed. For what is mortal must be changed into what is immortal; what will die must be changed into what cannot die. So when this takes place, and the mortal has been changed into the immortal, then the scripture will come true: "Death is destroyed; victory is complete!" "Where, Death, is your victory? Where, Death, is your power to hurt?" Death gets its power to hurt from sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! So then, my dear friends, stand firm and steady. Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord's service is ever useless. (1 Corinthians 15:47-58)
For those of us walking in the kingdom of light, and members of God's family, any sickness we must endure in the present life is always temporary. The world is broken and decaying because of sin, but our citizenship is not of this world! We are only here temporarily as resident aliens, or foreigners. As such, it is expected that we do not "fit in" since most people still walk in the darkness. It is difficult and tiring to always be different, to be going "against the crowd" and to be viewed as weird, eccentric, or whatever the people walking in darkness think of us. But we have to keep our eyes on our true King, walking by faith and having fellowship with the other members of the kingdom of light, the believers. We are also called "saints" which literally means "holy ones", not because we ourselves are really holy, but because Jesus is holy, and his death on the cross for our sins made us holy also. We are only holy because of our relationship to Jesus.
When Jesus was on earth before his death and resurrection, his disciples were expecting him to setup a new earthly kingdom. He tried to explain to them that his kingdom was not of this world, and that he had to voluntarily experience death on our behalf so that our future in heaven would be secure.
"Do not be worried and upset," Jesus told them. "Believe in God and believe also in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am. You know the way that leads to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; so how can we know the way to get there?" Jesus answered him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me. Now that you have known me," he said to them, "you will know my Father also, and from now on you do know him and you have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father; that is all we need." Jesus answered, "For a long time I have been with you all; yet you do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Why, then, do you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe, Philip, that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I have spoken to you," Jesus said to his disciples, "do not come from me. The Father, who remains in me, does his own work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. If not, believe because of the things I do. I am telling you the truth: those who believe in me will do what I do---yes, they will do even greater things, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father's glory will be shown through the Son. If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it. "If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God. The world cannot receive him, because it cannot see him or know him. But you know him, because he remains with you and is in you. "When I go, you will not be left all alone; I will come back to you. In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me; and because I live, you also will live. When that day comes, you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me, just as I am in you. "Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. My Father will love those who love me; I too will love them and reveal myself to them." (John 14:1-21) the apostle John's record of the life of Jesus recorded in the New Testament
We are aliens and foreigners living here on earth, but Jesus has not left us alone. We still have access to him in heaven even while we live here on earth! In the meantime, we wait for his return and the day when he sets up his new kingdom on a new earth.
Our Power: The Holy Spirit
As we noted above in John chapter 12, Jesus promised his disciples that when he left this world, he would send another "Helper", the Holy Spirit. In verse 26 of the same chapter he said: "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you."
Paul later went on to explain in his letter to the believers in Ephesus that the promised Holy Spirit was God's "stamp of ownership" on us, and would give us access to His power.
And you also became God's people when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation. You believed in Christ, and God put his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit he had promised. The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised his people, and this assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are his. Let us praise his glory! For this reason, ever since I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people, I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you. I remember you in my prayers and ask the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you the Spirit, who will make you wise and reveal God to you, so that you will know him. I ask that your minds may be opened to see his light, so that you will know what is the hope to which he has called you, how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people, and how very great is his power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world. Christ rules there above all heavenly rulers, authorities, powers, and lords; he has a title superior to all titles of authority in this world and in the next. God put all things under Christ's feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things. The church is Christ's body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere. (Ephesians 1:13-23)
The Holy Spirit in our lives gives us access to the same power that raised Christ from the dead! It is important to note that the Holy Spirit is a person, not just a force. We must yield and submit to His leading, as we submit to Christ's leadership. If we give in to sin and the temptation to live like people who are in the kingdom of darkness, we limit the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:22-32)
The power of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we yield to him gives us new purpose and meaning in life, as the Holy Spirit equips us for service within the body of Christ. Along with this equipping we can expect to receive special gifts that are uniquely suited to us and our purpose in the kingdom of light, as we serve Jesus our King and one another. A few places in the New Testament that give lists of the kinds of gifts the Holy Spirit gives to us are I Corinthians chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Romans chapter 12, although these lists are not exhaustive by any means.
While this is just a brief summary of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it is worth noting briefly two aspects of the power of the Holy Spirit that can have a tremendous impact on our health. In the Ephesians 4 passage above, the last sentence says: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." There is tremendous power in this verse to release healing in your life. It is difficult, if not impossible, to forgive people who have wronged us or hurt us if we are simply operating in our own strength, in the strength of our sinful nature. Being tenderhearted and forgiving are "fruits" of the Holy Spirit. Paul very clearly explained the contrast of the works of our sinful nature, and the fruits of the Holy Spirit in his letter to the believers in Galatia:
What I say is this: let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature. For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do. If the Spirit leads you, then you are not subject to the Law. What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these. I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not possess the Kingdom of God. But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires. The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives. We must not be proud or irritate one another or be jealous of one another. (Galatians 5:16-26)
Forgiveness, as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, is one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and it carries great power to heal. As we have discussed in previous articles, true health is more than just the physical realm. The spiritual realm has tremendous impact on our physical health, but most health-care solutions in western culture today deal only with the physical. The opposite of "tenderhearted" and "forgiving one another" is bitterness and anger, and an unforgiving spirit. These are works of the sinful nature (and often empowered by the ruler of the kingdom of darkness) that have the power to cause great physical sickness and disease, especially if they are present in us over long periods of time. When we live in the kingdom of darkness before being born again, we are tricked in our minds into thinking that anger and bitterness towards others gives us power over them. But it isn't true. Just the opposite is true. Anger and unforgiveness in our hearts give the spiritual forces of darkness power over us! But once we enter into the kingdom of light, and we are stamped with the Holy Spirit and have access to his power, we can forgive past hurts and pains people have committed against us, with the result that tremendous physical healing can follow that no medicine, herb, or any other natural means can accomplish. If the Holy Spirit is leading you to forgive someone right now, kill your pride and yield to the Spirit and watch the healing that will follow!
The second fruit of the Spirit that has tremendous power for health is faith. Most of us live in western culture that exalts science and the natural realm, and has no room for faith. The book of Hebrews in the New Testament describes faith:
To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see. It was by their faith that people of ancient times won God's approval. It is by faith that we understand that the universe was created by God's word, so that what can be seen was made out of what cannot be seen.... No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:1-3,6)
It is by faith that we receive all the blessings that God wants to give to us, including health. As members of God's family, we know the future. Not the day-to-day events that will happen in our lives, but we know that the earth and the physical realm is winding down, that the present earth will be destroyed and that Jesus will come back to setup a new kingdom on a new earth. We know that whatever sickness or difficulties face us today are only temporary, because our bodies will be transformed into spiritual bodies where sickness and death are gone in heaven. We don't know all the pages of our story between here and there, but as far as our foreign residence on this earth goes, we know how the story ends.
We cover the subject of faith much more in other articles.
The kingdom of light here on earth is a spiritual kingdom. We still reside in the natural realm, where death and disease still operate. The kingdom of darkness is still the predominate kingdom, for now. Therefore, each day is a battle as the two kingdoms collide. We are not removed from the daily battle, we are just empowered to endure it, and to overcome it.
In fact, as members of the kingdom of light we now become special targets of the spiritual powers operating in the kingdom of darkness. The apostle Peter wrote: Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Be firm in your faith and resist him, because you know that other believers in all the world are going through the same kind of sufferings. (I Peter 5:8-9) The more we yield to the Holy Spirit and overcome our sinful nature, the more intense the attacks from the opposition become. No, life in the kingdom of light does not get easier, but it gets better, because now we are on the winning side! The more Godly we become as we grow in our relationship to Christ and the Holy Spirit, the more of a threat we become to the kingdom of darkness. Everyone who wants to live a godly life in union with Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12) The apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy
In our daily battle, it is important to recognize the true enemy. Flesh and blood people are not our enemies in the spiritual realm. Every human being is created in the image of God and has incredible value. But people walking in darkness are deceived by the ruler of the kingdom of darkness, and his forces. These spiritual rulers and forces are our true enemies. They are in the spiritual realm, not the physical. Those who are deceived and walking in the darkness still have a chance to see the light, and find God's love and forgiveness. That is why Christ tells us to love our enemies in the physical realm, because we may be their only hope to hear the truth. Paul taught about this in his letter to the Ephesian church.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13)
We will also face daily temptations to leave the light and wander off into the darkness, where we don't belong. It is a daily struggle, and our only hope is to place no trust in ourselves, but only in the work of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives. We must obey the teachings of Christ, and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives. One of the most eloquent chapters in the New Testament illustrating this, and our victory over our sinful nature and spiritual enemies, is Romans chapter 8. So I close this article with one of the most brilliant pieces of literature written by the apostle Paul. I personally committed this chapter to memory when I was a young believer many years ago, and you would probably do well if you did the same.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:1-39)
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