“When anyone steps out of the system and tells the truth, lives the truth, that person enables everyone else to peer behind the curtain too.” (Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers, Kindle loc. 1460)
We’ve been pulling back the curtain on the Beast. This is part four of my Easter series, “Jesus Christ: Savior of the World.” Today, we will finish up on the first question, “What does the New Testament mean by “world?”
The Fallen World mindset
As I’ve said many times before, when Adam and Eve ate from the wrong tree, something terrible happened. As C. Baxter Kruger put it: “they painted God’s face with Diablos’ brush.” Here are some of the symptoms:
- View of God based in fear. Man separates himself from God.
- Humankind becomes judge of right and wrong (good and evil)
- God is seen as angry and distant
- God must be appeased with sacrifice (transactional rather than relational)
- Love is conditional, performance based
- We create “fig leaf” religions to hide our shame and avoid intimacy with God
- It’s an orphan mindset (God’s not living in me. He’s “up in heaven”)
- We are enemies in our mind with God, alienating ourselves from Him (Col. 1:21)
- We see God’s justice as retributive (revenge-driven, eye for an eye, “myth of redemptive violence”) rather than restorative (reconciliatory).
This, again, is the paradigm of all world religions, subsumed within the system matrix, or what Watchman Nee called “the mind behind the system“(Love Not The World).
Immediate impact of the Fall
So, what was the immediate impact of this alienated mindset with Adam’s progeny? Here’s a summation of the first six chapters of Genesis after the fall:
- Cain and Abel think they need to sacrifice in order to appease God (nowhere does it say God required this of them)
- Cain becomes jealous and kills Abel (first murder is religiously motivated)
- From there, cities and nations form, violence and corruption intensifies until it fill the whole (known) earth.
After this, God continues to deal with humankind (with Israel as the covenantal model), not as He actually is but, because of love, acquiescing to their corrupted mindset that eats from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil until Christ could come and free us all from this system. He begins this long deconstruction project with Abraham (see Gen.12:1-3).
If we’re going to look behind the curtain and understand this insidious beast, it’s important right now to know that this is the “corruption that is in the world” we’re to have escaped from (see 2 Pet.1:4).
It’s not talking about this planet, people, or even the “Seven Mountain” societal construct itself, but escaping what has made all of this its victim.
The book of Revelation makes this case. Walter Wink says this about it:
“Never has a more withering political and economic criticism of empire been penned. The author sees with clairvoyant exactitude the bestiality of Rome, and behind it to the satanic spirit undergirding it. (Engaging The Powers, Kindle loc. 1472)
In Revelation 17-18, we see a clear picture of this Harlot who “sits” (controls) on the Seven Mountains. Keep in mind, these are spiritual metaphors:
“Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. (Rev.17:1-3 *)
15 Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. (Rev.17:13 *)
3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” (Rev.18:3 *)
In describing the final judgment on this Harlot, those who have loved “this world” lament:
11 “And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: 12 merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; 13 and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men. (Rev, 18:11-13 *)
Of course, this is all highly symbolic but, hopefully, you get the picture. It’s a world ideology manifested through fear, greed, power, control, murder, revenge, theft, misogyny, rape, racial prejudice, and human enslavement in all its forms.
But that’s not the end of the story! This false construct, with the Roman Empire as its first century archetype, will one day completely crumble and then “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev.11:15)
Before we move on, it’s important we understand that the perpetrators in this false system are also victims. This is why we’re not to judge; we’re told to love our enemies for they’re also trapped in its evil grip. Indeed, we ourselves have unwittingly taken part in it so we’re in no position to judge (Matt.5:38-48; 7:1-5; Rom.2:1).
Name that fruit!
To see which tree we’re eating from, let’s look at Paul’s two lists (not exhaustive) in Galatians chapter five. I will highlight the ones we religious folk think are okay [brackets are further explanation]:
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (the “flesh”):
19 The wrong things the sinful self does are clear: committing sexual sin, being morally bad, doing all kinds of shameful things, 20 worshiping false gods, taking part in witchcraft [includes control, manipulation], hating people, causing trouble, being jealous, angry or selfish, causing people to argue and divide into separate groups, 21 being filled with envy, getting drunk, having wild parties, and doing other things like this. (Gal. 5:19-21 ERV *)
Tree of Life (life in Christ):
22 But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. (Gal. 5:22-23 ERV *)
So, let’s play, “Name that fruit!” It’s easy to play, and important for understanding which “world” we’ve been getting our life flow from. We just need to conduct an open and honest inspection of what’s been manifesting in our lives, then we’ll be able to embrace the truth that makes us free (John 8:31-32).
Let’s pause for a moment and look at ourselves in the light of these things. Beloved, the fruit doesn’t lie (Matt.7:17-18).
Am I unforgiving, hateful, want revenge? Name that fruit! Ungracious, abusive? Name that fruit! Politically or relationally divisive? Name that fruit! Kind, joyful, peace-maker? Name the fruit…see how easy it is.
I hope you’re getting a glimpse into how insidious and ubiquitous this false construct is. We’re now ready to answer the second question. Next time…