Insight into the unseen world
Sermon given by Jan Fluit
I’ve brought a parcel with me today. Do you see it? Nicely wrapped in colourful paper. Do you know what is in it? You don’t, do you? Because you can’t see through the wrapping. The contents are invisible to you. So now I am going to unwrap the parcel. Can you see what it is now? That’s right, an atlas. A book full of maps and information about the world. It was literally ‘’the unseen world’. Until I took away the wrapping it was unseen by you all. It was there, but you couldn’t see it.
And that’s what I want to talk to you about today, The unseen world. That may seem like an impossible task, because how can you talk about a world that you cannot see. It is however a terminology that we have used for a long time and are familiar with. A terminology we use to describe the spiritual world.
So, what role does this unseen world, play in my life? Do I keep an open mind about it in my daily life, do I accept that the spiritual world can have an influence on my life, and if so, how do I react to things that happen?
Well, first of all let’s go back to my example of the atlas. An atlas is a work of art, especially in days gone by, when people had to go everywhere by foot and had limited tools to measure everything with.
For us, discovering the world is really discovering what others have already discovered and documented. And so the atlas contains information about countries, oceans, heights and depths, boundaries, climates and a whole lot more.
Nowadays it is a lot easier to make maps and charts. Satellites are used to look down at the earth from above, so that you have an direct view of the world.
This is also a good way of describing the spiritual world. If you look at it from above, together with God and guided by his Holy Spirit, then everything becomes clearer. Then you “see” the reality of the spiritual world better.
In two Corinthians chapter four verse sixteen it says:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day.
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.“
The decay of the outer nature that is mentioned here, does not refer so much to the physical decay of your body, as to the fact that you no longer consider the material side of life so important, because your inner nature is being renewed through your fellowship with God. You become of the same mind as God.
And because of this you start distancing yourself from all sorts of outward, material matters and problems, because sometimes these things can demand so much of your time and attention that you have no time left to spend discovering the spiritual world, and in that case it will always remain a closed book to you. And it says here in Corinthians that you mustn’t let that happen. It is important that yourinner nature be renewed daily. Because you will become newer and fresher and younger, every day, if you focus on God’s reality, his blue print, his map, his landscape that he painted. The whole spiritual realm is open to you, destined for you.
However, when we are talking about the spiritual world, then the clear and precise map that we have also shows what is NOT good, and what doesnot belong in your life because it is a hostile element threatening your very being.
God putsthat on the map too, He makes it visible for you, so that you don’t unknowingly walk into a ravine.
And so He makes visible what he intended for your life, and He enjoys doing that. He wants to help you. And if myinner nature is renewed from day to day, then that will become visible in my outer nature. People will see the difference, because the words I speak, and the way I behave, will be renewed all the time too.
Then I will learn how to resist the things that stand in the way of my spiritual growth. Because it says here:
“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
So we meet with affliction, but Paul refers to it as a ‘slight’ affliction. Of course we know that Paul had met with many troubles and afflictions, he talks about that often. When you read about it then you wonder how he ever managed to carry on.
I sometimes wonder how I would react in a situation like that. If, without any good reason,my clothes were pulled from my body, and my back beaten until it bled, and then I was thrown into prison while my back was bleeding and my feet put in a block, as if I was likely to escape! And I would have to lie there on the ground, simply because I had preached the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ. (You can read about this in Acts chapter sixteen verses twenty-two to twenty-five).
What about you? Just imagine. You have been beaten and humiliated, and what’s more, you are no longer able to carry out your calling that you fully believed in. Because you are chained down and beaten, literally. How do you think you would react?
Paul and Silas started tosing in that situation. I don’t know if I would be able to do that, but I would like to think I could.
The reason for that singing is very important. Paul had insight. Insight into the spiritual world. In this case a good pair of weighing scales. This was because he was filled with the Holy Spirit. The holy spirit helped him weigh up the situation correctly and react as he did. He says that the slight affliction does not compare with the weight of glory that exceeds everything else. What about that!
The glory is not just a slight weight. It outweighs everything else. And he is able to say that because he is not focussing on the visible but on the invisible.
He is just like Moses in this. The Bible says that Moses “endured, as seeing him who is invisible”. (Hebrews chapter eleven verse twenty-seven). That referred to his decision not to claim to be a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but to suffer with his people rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures. That’s why he was able to carry on, that’s how he managed to endure the suffering, that’s why he was able go on living.
If hecould, Satan would make the unseen spiritual world a closed book. And then you would become a victim of the visible. Everything that happens in your visible world would determine your life, how you live it, which direction you take, your progress, or just the opposite, the complete standstill of your development.
The enemy thinks: “I’ll slow you down and take away your faith; I’ll keep you busy with what you can see in front of you, in the visible world, so that you spend all your time worrying about all the troubles you encounter. I’ll undermine your resistance until your faith dwindles to nothing.”
So, dear people, don’t let yourself be restricted, but choose to walk in the space that the Lord gives you in the spiritual world, in the heavenly realms.
There is a remarkable story in Acts chapter seventeen, beginning at verse fifteen: Paul arrives in Athens and sees that the people have built lots of images, including one to an unknown god. That spurs him on to talk to the people about it. In verses 22 – 28 he says to them:
“Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘to the unknown god’. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, doesnot live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though He is in need of anything, since He is the One who gives to all men life and breath and everything.
He made from one, every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for “in him we live and move and have our being………..for we are indeed his offspring”.
Paul says to them here, you have made lots of images, you have dedicated one of them to the “unknown god” and you worship it. Well, I’d like to tell you about this God whom you say you cannot see and do not know. He cannot be found in images or shrines. You have to seek God, He is your Father, and Paul goes on to teach them all about God and what He is like. He wants them to get to know God as a loving Father who provides for you. Who gives you a place to live in. A place in His world. God wants it to be your home too. He wants you to feel at home with Him, and talk to Him face to face, so that you may experience His love and compassion.
It also says that He determines the boundaries of your habitation. Does my habitation have boundaries? Yes, it does. Does that make me feel shut in and restricted. No, not at all. But thereis a restriction, a limit, to what is right for you, what is good for you. He gives you boundaries to protect you.
Jesus was also a human being, and He imposed boundaries too. And whether temptation came to him through improper behaviour or flattering words, he imposed boundaries. “This far, and no further”.
When they say to Jesus in Matthew chapter twelve verse forty-seven: “See, your mother and your brothers are waiting outside to speak to you”, then Jesus says: “Who is my mother,
and who are my brothers? Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
What a strange reaction you may think. Do you think he is rejecting his mother and his brothers by saying this here? No, on the contrary, He was upholding the truth in the unseen world, so that He could react correctly in the visible world. One was a result of the other. The task that he had been given at that moment by His heavenly Father was to speak to the crowds of people, to care for his sheep.
And that’s why he imposed the boundary, so that he would not be distracted from this task. He did the same when people tried to force laws on him to stop him healing on the Sabbath, and during the storm on the lake, and lots of other times. He imposed boundaries.
If I want to be healed, to be restored and renewed, then I have to have insight into the truth of Jesus Christ. Then I need to have insight into the truth of the Spirit. Then I will get all the opportunity and space I need, because the Father speaks to me. And as a result of that I receive healing in various parts of my life, in the visible world as well.
Then I too learn to set up boundaries to prevent anything keeping me away from the truth.
In an atlas you also see marshes and swamps marked on the map. They are the places where there is no firm ground under your feet, where you could begin to sink. It can be like that in people’s lives too. You end up struggling in the swamp of opinions and ideas, alternative ways of thinking, and worries and negative thinking, and you lose your grip on your beliefs, and no longer feel firm ground under your feet. You start to sink amidst all the things that have happened to you, and that people have done to you, and the more you struggle with this, the further you sink. THEN it is important to set boundaries, preferably before you start sinking.
Make the decision that everything that is detrimental to your identity does not belong in your space, in your life. Keep it outside your boundaries. If your identity, your personality, what makes you, you, if THAT is under dispute, then that means there is someone who wants to steal that from you. Don’t allow that to happen.
Cherish your identity, your YOU. You are worth it. The Father loves you very much and He does not want anything harmful to happen to it.
That is typical of love, not allowing anything to mar what is good and pure, and honest. Then the One who determines the boundaries is also my foundation. If satan wants to come into your space, that territory where God the Father has determined where the boundaries lie, satan with all his lies, then overpower him and remove him and his lies, with words of truth that you receive from the Lord. You have been given theright to do this. Just like Job. In Job chapter forty verse ten it says: “Deck yourself with majesty and dignity, clothe yourself with glory and splendour. Pour forth the overflowings of your anger, and look on everything that is proud and make it humble”.
In Acts chapter seventeen verse twenty eight it says: “We are his offspring, his children. That’s how it should be. Born of Him”. So does that mean that we are all his children, his offspring? No, only if we are born of Him, and that means that many people still have to be born again.
And that’s why it is important that the seed of God’s spirit and truth be planted, be conceived, so that the truth can be born, be made visible. In Acts chapter seventeen verse twenty seven it says that they should ‘seek God and feel after him and find him. He is not far from each one of us’ he adds.
Here people are called upon to develop their sense of feeling. Their ability to sense what the Father wants and means. The ability to hear what my God says his direction is in my life.
Paul goes on to say: ”In Him we live and move and have our being, because we are also his offspring. We are HIS offspring. I discover my truth; my identity is in the being of God. In what God is. How He is, because I am like Him. I am born of Him. I am His offspring.
I remember that for a long time Jesus was preached about as a sort of contrast.He was big and friendly and good and perfect. But YOU weren’t, and it was YOUR fault that Jesus had to die on the cross.
And that is an awful thing to say. Because that’s exactly the reason why he came, why he died, so that you could also be like Him, and live in the life and truth that He is, and just be yourself.
Recently I read abut two young girls who had been so badly taunted and humiliated that they didn’t want to go on living. One of the girls told how she had planned to end her life.
Fortunately it never happened because she found God, and so also her true self, her real identity and personality. Because when you meet Him then you receive love and respect and healing.
It is so important to start to live in Him, so that all our movements are in Him, then condemnation, humiliation and all wrong ideas will come to an end. When I walk into heaven, when I take my place there, and there really is a place prepared for me, then I will see with pure clear eyes what is true, and then I can be finished with what is not true. And that is not all for later, when I die. In Ephesians chapter two verse six we read: “He has raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places”.
In Deuteronomy chapter twenty five verses seventeen to nineteen it tells how Amalek attacked and struck down all those who lagged behind because they were tired and weary.
And then Moses says, When the Lord your God gives you rest from all your enemies, then you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
The word Amalek means burden! The appeal is to blot out any memory of burdens, or attacks to the weak. So many people in the rear line have been cut off from the truth and from love. They go through life unseen because of a veil of denial, and a mask of sorrow. They no longer dare to show themselves, let alone move in Him.
But from the very beginning God said: “I will make a human being, a person that looks like me, outwardly and inwardly. And if God is love, then that person that He creates in His image in also love. If he is creative and respectful and precious, then the human being is all that as well.
And yes, it is true. There was indeed a thief who came and stole all that away from mankind. But that does not mean that you are doomed to live the rest of your lifealongside that thief and robber. When you return to your first love, to your God, then you can live your life with and through Him, the Father of all compassion. And so together you create a world where it is possible to live happily. You work at a landscape of peace and harmony, where you in turn give other people space to live in and the opportunity to be their own person, and discover their true identity.
We do not close gates so that people can’t get to the green meadows. We take off the locks, and open the gates, so that we can all reach the places that are given to us. Becauseyou are his offspring and you receive authority from Him. Then you walk with Him.
As far as the earth is concerned Psalm ninety-eight verse nine says: “He is going to restore the earth. He will rule the world in justice and the people in righteousness. And the people will finally be able to say: justice at last”.
In Ephesians chapter six verse ten: Paul says:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
So how do I do all that. It says, be strong in the Lord. But HOW?
How do I become strong? Well, if I believe what He says is true, and I do what He says, then I will become strong. I will put on my spiritual armour.
Some people fight so much in their lives that they collapse under the pressure. Because they think that everything depends on what they do, they put so much energy into all their activities that they are too exhausted to do anything else.
But if you have Gods spiritual armour on, his truth, his love and peace, then you can resist the temptations of the devil who is always trying to lead you astray in your thoughts and actions.
And I am so grateful that I do not have to fight against flesh and blood, because you exhaust yourself with all the fighting, and you harm the person you are fighting against, but you achieve nothing.
However, there is a world ruler, satan, who says: “The world, that is my territory, mankind is mine. There was one human being who listened to me and did what I said, and now sin has penetrated through to the whole of mankind. Andyou are a human being, so you are mine too. You are not capable of doing good. You do what I want because you are my slave, the slave to sin.”
BUT, then someoneelse came, Jesus, and HE said: “That’s not right. These thoughts and conclusions are completely wrong.”
Histhoughts were: “There are lots of things still in darkness. You should see them in the light. People have become completely invisible because of the darkness.
But what if a light was to shine on them from the land of light, life and love. Then you will see what wonderful people they are, and that they ARE capable of doing good”.
So when Jesus listened to the Father and clothed himself with HIS thoughts, then He made the decision: “I am not going to allow the earth to continue as it is now. I am going to change it.”
And to do this He gave His all, His very life, so that every person on earth who accepted that, should no longer have to be a slave to sin, but a person who loves life.
That led to Him saying: “All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew chapter twenty eight verse eighteen).
And I believe that, that it IS given to Him. And if He has all power, then satan has none. But what about this world ruler, who is used to being in charge, and ruling the earth, what happens to him? Jesus says that through His sacrifice He can declare satan’s right to rule, invalid. He will abolish this dictator with weapons of light, truth and life.
One of the most well know texts in the Bible is in John chapter three verse sixteen: “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life”.
It is a wonderful text. But it also applies to your thoughts. For God so loved my thoughts. Because that’s where it all begins, with the renewal of our thoughts. That’s what He wants so much.
He wants to feed us and fill us with his thoughts, with how HE believes and thinks, His ideas, His way of life.
And I may be his representative in all these things. I may show others what God is like. Wonderful, isn’t it? We may not know everything yet, but we do know that we have received a wonderful inheritance. Because the earth will be full of the glory of the Lord.
If we study the true law of Jesus, the law of freedom, then we will become wonderful people. And we will have a wonderful fellowship with Him. We will walk through life with Him, and while we are walking we are going to put all the wonderful truths that the Father has about mankind on the map - for others to discover. Let us work together on the atlas of truth, love and life.
Let us pray:
Father, thank you for the insight you give us into the unseen spiritual world. Thank you for the truth of your love and healing. It is wonderful that the insight that you give us also protects us against lies and evil. It is wonderful that you have given us a place where we can work with you to spread your goodness and salvation.
You give us eyes to see people as they really are, beautiful and perfect and loved.
Thank you that for giving us Your Spirit, which helps us to live from your strength, and love and wisdom
Lord we love you. Amen.