Gen. 2:17 π Job 5:13 π Psa. 94:11 π Isa. 40:13 π Isa. 64:4 π Mt. 18:20 π Mt. 27:25 π Lk. 12:4-5 π Jn. 3:16 π Jn. 3:19-21 π Jn. 14:15 π Jn. 15:13 π Jn. 16:33 π Acts 5:27-28 π Acts 5:29-32 π Acts 5:38-42 π Acts 5:42 π 1 Cor. 1:30 π 1 Cor. 2:6 π 1 Cor. 2:7-9 π 1 Cor. 2:10-12 π 1 Cor. 2:12-16 π 1 Cor. 3:18-23 π 1 Cor. 8:1-2 π 1 Cor. 8:2-3 π Rom. 8:15 π Eph. 2:2 π Col. 2:8 π 2 Tim. 1:7 π 1 Jn. 5:3 π 1 Jn. 5:19 π Rev. 1:13 π Rev. 1:20 π Rev. 2:2-5
This ruler of darkness is (or is at least related to) the one that Paul says is not given to us by God who has instead given us a spirit of adoption ( Rom. 8:15 ) and of power, love and a sound mind. ( 2 Tim. 1:7; top ) Why is that significant? Because this ruler’s work lies in the realm of getting us to fear (respectfully obey) man rather than God, that is, obey any man or follow any tradition, philosophy or teaching of man rather than obey God.
And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! ( Lk. 12:4-5; top )
When we walk in the Spirit of adoption, we know that we are sons of God and we can walk in holy boldness as we walk in Christ’s victory over the world. ( Jn. 16:33 ) When we walk in the Spirit of love, power and a sound mind, we can lay down our lives for our brethren and even the world. ( Jn. 15:13 ; 3:16; top ) We don’t obey the fear that this ruler of darkness stirs up in our hearts - we can obey God.
A perfect example of this is found in the book of Acts. Luke records:
And when [the captain and officers of the temple] had brought [the apostles], they set them before the [Sanhedrin]. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name [the name of Jesus]? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man?s blood on us!” ( Acts 5:27-28; top )
What a difference six weeks can make! When they were crucifying Christ, the people there said to Pilate,
“His blood be on us and on our children.” ( Mt. 27:25; top )
Christ’s blood is already on their hands but now they want it all to be behind them. How quickly the demonic helps its victims to forget the facts!
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” ( Acts 5:29-32; top )
That’s boldness! They are repeating the same “blasphemy” for which this same council executed Jesus! The story continues as the Spirit of God (that Spirit of wisdom who also bears witness to these things) stirs an eminent Pharisee on the council, Gamaliel, to rise up in their defense. Gamaliel says,
“...keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it - lest you even be found to fight against God.”
And [the council] agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. ( Acts 5:38-42; top )
We should note that the Holy Spirit overcame all the works which God had allowed the powers behind the Sanhedrin to accomplish in their enmity toward Jesus. Thus we see true wisdom coming from Gamaliel and, in the apostles, we see the boldness that overcomes the ruler of fearing man. Score one for the home team!
As an aside, we ought to notice that the apostles went to every house. ( Acts 5:42 ) Even the house “church” movement has missed this one! Gathering together in Christ’s name is not foremost about getting a crowd together (see Mt. 18:20; top ) - not even in the neighborhood house “church.” Where ongoing relations are possible and ordained by the Lord, it’s about the older, more mature believers (who have become proficient at abiding in Christ) going to every house in ones and twos to see what is occurring in each house, seeing how they might further the work of Christ in that home. It’s about older believers providing younger believers with personal services and selfless examples the younger ones will need to see to truly express the life of Christ toward others in their turn. This is completely antithetical to the ruler of false religion’s “church” though some “churches” give token acknowledgment to this concept in their “home visitation” programs.
Choosing whether we will obey man or God is not always so clear cut a choice as the apostles faced. The ruler of fearing man has corrupted many a follower of Christ away from simple obedience to Christ by dangling in front of them more subtle opportunities to obey man rather than God. In the letter to the ekklesia of Ephesus, Jesus rebuked them saying,
I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place - unless you repent. ( Rev. 2:2-5; top )
Removing one of the lampstands is a serious punishment. It means taking that ekklesia out of the presence of Christ. (see Rev. 1:13 , 20; top ) Leaving one’s first love must also be a serious offense - and it is. Leaving one’s first love is to forget Christ Himself and get caught up in works done in His name. It is to cease to abide in Him and take up works, a form of legalism.
This is precisely what happened to many second century followers of Christ. Greek forms of thought intermingled with Christ’s teachings. Rather than being intimate with Christ and obeying the leadings of Christ’s Spirit, many became philosophical about following Christ’s teachings, seeing them as another system of thought rather than a whole new way of living life.
The roots of this thinking are seen in the New Testament itself. Paul wrote,
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. ( Col. 2:8; top )
Many second century followers of Christ failed to heed this warning, having fallen victim to the deceits of the ruler of fearing man, and fell from the heights of simply abiding in Christ. The traditions of men - philosophy, morality, education, knowledge, etc. - when pursued apart from Christ only serve to stir up one’s independent knowledge of good and evil, the very thing for which Adam and Eve were ejected from God’s first garden. ( Gen. 2:17; top )
We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything... ( 1 Cor. 8:1-2; top )
That is, in the place where one holds on to knowledge apart from Christ.
...he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him. ( 1 Cor. 8:2-3; top )
Knowledge, when gained or held apart from our love relationship with Christ, is a return to our flesh nature. It is unwisely looking to a wrong source. Christ Jesus is our source of knowledge and wisdom - and that wisdom is spiritually gained from God through His Spirit. (see 1 Cor. 1:30 ) Paul wrote,
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. ( 1 Cor. 2:6; top )
Don’t miss that - the rulers of darkness will not ultimately prevail. Don’t be caught up in their schemes and suffer their fate with them.
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” ( 1 Cor. 2:7-9 ; Isa. 64:4; top )
We must not forget that those who truly love God obey Him. ( Jn. 14:15 ; 1 Jn. 5:3; top ) As we obey, we abide. As we abide, we receive His illumination and revelation. Those who disobey and fail to abide remain mired in their own thoughts or, worse, the darkness of this age.
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world... ( 1 Cor. 2:10-12; top )
This latter is not a reference to a demonic entity but to the attitude, mindset and predisposition toward disobedience that makes us subject to the prince of the power of the air. (see Eph. 2:2; top )
Now we have received...the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “Who has known the mind of the
LORDthat he may instruct Him?” [ Isa. 40:13 ] But we have the mind of Christ. ( 1 Cor. 2:12-16; top )
Only those who receive of the Spirit of God have the mind of Christ. All others are under the sway of the rulers of this dark world. (see 1 Jn. 5:19 ; Jn. 3:19-21; top ) If we allow cultural expectations and mandates to govern the way we follow Christ we have no basis to believe that Jesus is our Lord and instead must reasonably conclude that we are simply under the sway - the control and direction - of the evil one.
Paul goes on to say,
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness” [ Job 5:13 ]; and again, “The
LORDknows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” [ Psa. 94:11 ] Therefore let no one glory in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come - all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. ( 1 Cor. 3:18-23; top )
Man can never truly add anything to God’s way of salvation - he can only participate in it or else his actions remove himself from it. Rejecting the world’s wisdom to embrace God’s wisdom is not foolishness - it is the only way to eternal life.
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