Rule And The Kingdom
...and if Satan casteth out Satan he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges. But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you" (Matt. 12:26-28).
Two "kingdoms" are in existence: God's and the Devil's. The nature of each and how I become a part of them is vital to our understanding.
A baby is born and in a safe relationship with God (Ezek. 18:20). Its death, while certainly sad, does not bring a sorrow that cannot be consoled (2 Sam. 12:23) for it is "safe in the arms of Jesus."
But as the child grows his relationship with God changes. While a "young man" (Ps. 119:9), at some "age of accountability" (Eccl. 11:9-10), he begins to allow the will of Satan to rule in his heart and life. He freely chooses the Devil over God, becoming obedient to his will, and thus a part of the kingdom: the rule of the Devil (Jn. 8:44)
As this man matures, however, he comes to appreciate that God doesn't want men to die in sin (2 Pet. 3:9). He further learns of the "good news" that God sent His Son to die for the sins of men (2 Cor. 5:14-15). Once again he exercises his free will in obedience — this time to the will of God. In so doing he becomes a part of the kingdom: the rule of God over hearts submissive to His will. This obedience involves, initially, a real change of heart toward all past sins (Acts 17:30) and immersion in water to wash them away (Acts 22:16). This same submissive attitude toward God will cause him to "walk in the light" (1 Jn. 1:7), dead to continuing in sin (Rom. 6:1-14); because he allows God's seed, His will, to abide in him (1 Jn. 3:9).
But after a period of faithful service, the world pulls, his faith weakens, and love grows cold. Once more the will of the Devil becomes his will. Once more he becomes obedient: Once again he is in the kingdom: now doing the will of the Devil (1 Cor. 5:1-5). In his apostasy he is once again what he was before: a son of the one obeyed (Rom. 6:16), no longer worthy to be or be called God's son (Rom. 8:14; Lk. 15:19,21).
However, this man is not beyond hope. Successful efforts are made to strengthen his faith and rekindle his love (2 Cor. 2:5-6). His allegiance changes. Once more he renounces the will of the Devil and obeys the will of God. Repentance and prayer reflect an obedient attitude once more. God again rules in his life. Once again he is part of the kingdom (2 Cor. 5: 7-8).
Two kingdoms: God's and Satan's. Not "institutions" but relationships entered into and sustained by the submission and continued obedience of our spirits to the will and rule of either our Father (Rpm. 1:9) or our adversary (Eph. 2:2); for we can have but one Master (Matt. 6:24). May His will be ours and His kingdom within us (Lk. 17:21). David Smitherman