Jesus Christ: Savior of the world – Part Three

How is religion part of “this world” that Jesus came to save us from, and where did this whole counterfeit construct come from? This is part three in my series where we’re looking at these three questions:

  • What does the New Testament mean by “world?”
  • What does it mean that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World?
  • Why should this matter to us?

We’re still looking at the first question. If you have not read the other two parts, I suggest you do that before continuing here. 

Religion in “this world”

We need to understand that what Jesus came to expose includes the fallen construct of religion. While all world religions are subsumed in the “seven mountain” cultural structure (see part one), Jesus came to put an end to religion and replace it by making a way to share in His life and relationship with His Father (John 14:6).

I will probably need to explain that further another time (or you could just read my series, “Leaving religion to follow Christ“). For our purposes here, I want to show how the Pharisees represented religion in the fallen structure, even though they were part of God’s covenantal people. See how Jesus exposes this:

23 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:23-24 *)

Notice Jesus said they are “of this world.” Why? Not because they weren’t observing the Law or behaving themselves. These Pharisees were dedicated “Bible-believing” Jews! They followed all the rules; they faithfully attended synagogue and required feasts; they were moral and respected in their religious community. Yet, Jesus says their father is the devil (John 8:44).

They weren’t from the wrong world because they weren’t faithful practitioners of their religion; it was because, as Jesus told them, you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (see John 5:39-40).

Now, it’s time to pull the curtain all the way back and expose the beast.

Two trees, two worlds

I’ve already written at length on this blog about the tragedy in the Garden when Adam and Eve ate from the wrong tree. I want to focus in here on a few other points as it pertains to the “world” Jesus is trying to free us from here.

We’ve already seen how God created His good world and gave Adam and Eve full partnership in it. Genesis three begins by introducing the serpent. He is cunning and begins to do his Jedi mind trick on Eve, convincing her that God was holding out on her (same lie he tells us today). So, Eve eats…and then Adam…

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. (Gen. 3:6-7 *)

Before we talk about this, you’ve probably heard this connection before, but John shows us the same modus operandi here [brackets added for clarification]:

16 For all that is in the world [FALLEN CONSTRUCT]—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world [FALLEN CONSTRUCT].  (1 John 2:16 *)

Notice the parallel…”pleasant to the eyes'” (“lust of the eyes”), “good for food” (“lust of the flesh”), and “desirable to make one wise” (“pride of life”). These are the three areas where we try to derive life from the empty self, apart from God. This is how Greg Boyd describes this empty self:

“The reality God wills is that of an eternal fullness overflowing to, in, and through everyone and everything. The reality Eve was in the process of creating—the reality we humans have been creating ever since—was the reality of a vacuum in which she attempted to get life by having everything flow into it. Instead of reality being centered on the fullness of God, reality for Eve became centered on her own, now empty, self.” (Boyd, Repenting from Religion, p. 144 *)

Instead of receiving the continuous life flow from God and letting it flow out to others, we become a black hole to everyone around us, getting our life flow from them.

Lust is the opposite of other-centered, self-giving love. It objectifies others for its own self-gratification. This is not just sexual, it’s anything we’re trying to get life from. As Paul Young said about religion, “It tends to be transactional and propositional rather than relational and mysterious. You don’t have to trust Person, or care for Person.” (See full quote here).

Which bring me to my last point today, continuing on in the Genesis account…

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Gen. 3:8-10 *)

Now we’re getting the full picture of the religious paradigm in “this world” construct.

The first question we have to ask is, who is separating themselves from who here? Adam and Eve are the ones separating themselves from God! God still wants a relationship. It’s Adam and Eve who are hiding. This is the DNA of an orphan spirit.

The second question is, why did Adam and Eve cover their nakedness? The answer is because they now saw themselves exposed and vulnerable, which is a requirement for intimacy. They replaced honest and open intimacy with God with “fig leaf” religion that hides its shame and paints God’s face with Satan’s brush. You might say that God’s perfect love was cast out by fear in the Garden. This is the same fig leaf religion that God had to deconstruct and constantly acquiesce to throughout the entire Old Testament.

So, here we see the genesis of “this world.” We will talk about the immediate impact this had on humankind and God’s good world next time.

* New King James Bible translation. All emphasis mine.
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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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11 Responses to Jesus Christ: Savior of the world – Part Three

  1. Well said. I’ve enjoyed reading this. I must say, that religious spirit may be one of the most terribly, awful things I’ve ever seen. I’m often reminded that Christ would probably agree with me and had a few choice words to say about it Himself.

    The empty self makes me think of the pie theory. Not enough pie to go around, so constant envy, lack, as we try to pour things into the abyss of our souls. God is not like that at all, so the pie is really infinite. I like Isaiah 58:11, “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”

    I really like this quote, too, “The reality God wills is that of an eternal fullness overflowing to, in, and through everyone and everything.” Yep, eternal, infinite pie.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks IB. I agree that the religious spirit is not only insidious and addictive but probably the most evil because it’s tied to a conviction that goes into the deepest part of our soul, which is how we think about God. Fear is a powerful thing!
      The pie theory would be a perfect analogy. In religion, we have our “food fight” over the limited resources, with divisive competitiveness, creating denominations and sects to prove we have the best restaurant to eat the “pie” in. 🙂

  2. Cindy Powell says:

    “The first question we have to ask is, who is separating themselves from who here? Adam and Eve are the ones separating themselves from God! God still wants a relationship. It’s Adam and Eve who are hiding.” Yes. This. This has always struck my heart so deeply–it was God who called out to Adam and Eve while they hid. In fact, I’d call it the very first “but God” in the Bible (vs 9 in some translations is: “But the Lord God called out to the man.”). This fact alone punches some pretty big holes in so much of our theology of “separation.” But God. Two little words that change everything. Despite our ignorance and propensity to continue eating from the wrong tree, He still calls out to us and patiently waits for us to realize He’s been reaching out all along.

    • Mel Wild says:

      “Despite our ignorance and propensity to continue eating from the wrong tree, He still calls out to us and patiently waits for us to realize He’s been reaching out all along.”

      Absolutely! God’s furious love is relentless! He won’t stop until we see no separation whatsoever and we find what our heart’s been looking for all along. Jesus came to give us His heart instead of our orphaned one.
      Blessings.

  3. You wrote…They replaced honest and open intimacy with God with “fig leaf” religion that hides its shame and paints God’s face with Satan’s brush.

    What a powerful statement. That goes right along with the thought the Holy Spirit gave me about educating your head at the expense of your heart.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Patrick. Yes, what you’re saying is the fruit of not seeing God rightly. Who wants intimacy who someone we think is more like Zeus!

    • As I wrote on your post regarding the subversive Kingdom, I am trying to wrap my mind around your teaching in a way in which I could explain it to others. As such, I have revisited several of your posts. See how I am doing…

      Adam and Eve walked in heaven come down to earth. They were operating in the reality of the spiritual realm where they walked with God and obviously talked with angels. They had a direct link between all three dimensions of heaven (1. The atmosphere, 2. Outer space, 3) God’s heavenly throne.)

      When satan came to tempt Adam and Eve, he presented to them the illusion of a better world where they would be like God. Adam had the opportunity to put an end to the matter but chose, through his sin, the world system (lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and pride of life). As such the world was immediately turned upside down and the illusion became the reality. Heaven and the earth had a broken connection.

      Jesus came to turn the world right side up again by bringing heaven back down to earth. That is why He instructed the disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. However, because the veil of sin is still in place, the only ones who are able to perceive heaven come to earth are those who accept Jesus and have had the blinders removed.

      Now, for us Westerner’s, we tend to have a one dimensional view of heaven. We tend to think that when Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of heaven in Matthew 5 (Beatitudes), He is referring to our death. However, in reality, He is speaking of our ability to walk in the goodness, authority, and power of heaven while on earth…(Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…)

      How am I doing??

    • Mel Wild says:

      I think you’re doing great! 🙂 I will make one slight correction and one addition to what you said.
      First, the second heaven is a spiritual realm where Satan, angels, demons, etc., duke it out. The first heaven actually includes outer space (all of the material creation).

      Second, I would add that God’s plan from before Adam fell was to have sons and daughters (Eph.1:3-6). So, not only is God restoring us to what Adam and Eve lost, but He actually went beyond their relationship by putting His Spirit in us. Adam did not have the indwelling Spirt. We needed Christ for that. So, we are like Christ in this human regard. God dwells in us! We are in Christ and He is in us. Pretty wild!

    • Thanks…In case you are wondering, I was asked to teach at a home church. I was prepared to teach from Romans 8 when I kept feeling the prompting to go back and re-read your posts on the kingdom of the heavens and then to teach along those lines.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Cool. I know you’ll do great. If you have any other questions about this, you can either post a comment or email me at mwild@centurytel.net.

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