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Unconsciously, I think many believers (and possibly unbelievers, too) view life as demonstrated by this chart. We agree that God has a realm, or kingdom. We agree that Satan has a realm, or kingdom. Then, we see ourselves as being in a separate realm somewhere in between the two power houses.
The Scriptures provide us an understanding of the eternal and ongoing purposes of both God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom. Most believers are most comfortable staying outside of the two realms. For instance, if we wanted to identify with God’s side, we see that as requiring a sacrifice of our individual desires and needs. While in our hearts we may have a desire to be sold out to God’s agenda, many of us hold back from making that leap. After all, we don’t want to look like fanatics or a radical Jesus follower. What would our relatives, our friends or co-workers think? What if God calls us to the mission field, or asks us to give up a job to go into a fulltime ministry? No, we’d rather stay comfortable just where we’re at so that we don’t get accused of being too “religious.”
On the other hand, we would deny giving any support or allegiance toward Satan’s realm. We’re believers, after all, so we surely can’t be willing to identify with him. That would be disloyal to Christ. Besides, Satan stands for everything that’s evil and ugly, and in our hearts we don’t support that.
The “middle” realm, which represents “our little corner of the world,” epitomizes the goals and American dream we all wish to achieve. Most of us were brought up in families that had similar goals; therefore, we tend to strive to replicate the same lifestyle. After all, it’s what we know and what we’re familiar with. In themselves, most of the activities, interests and hobbies in which we’re involved are generally good things. The list of purposes includes many of the goals and activities that fill our lives and on which we spend our energy and time. Unfortunately, because of societal influences, we can be tempted to compromise our standards and let down our moral walls. Without giving too much thought about our actions, we fail to grasp, or even care, whether some of our activities become displeasing to the Lord, and so we move through life focused on what we enjoy.
This chart is a good visual of the Laodicean church. About that church the Lord said, “I’d rather you be hot or cold than lukewarm.” Obviously, God’s side represents the “hot,” and Satan’s side represents the “cold.” Our realm represents the lukewarmness that God so despises. The normal Laodicean lifestyle is so offensive to the Lord, He’d just as soon spit us out of His mouth than tolerate our complacency, our indifference and our mediocre Christianity. If we could hear His voice, He’d probably be yelling at us to “GET OFF THE BENCH AND GET IN THE GAME!”
That said, if we look at life as if it were a game, there’s a major flaw in our thinking. The diagram depicts three teams, and as we all know, most major sporting events involve only two teams on the playing field. Our thinking that we can remain neutral in the spiritual “game” and not commit fully to either side is a fallacy. We cannot remain as a separate third team living unto ourselves. We’re kidding ourselves if we think that’s a possibility.
Based on Scripture, the reality is there are only two sides, or two teams, and they are God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom. There are only two teams on the spiritual playing field, not three. So, if there can’t be a neutral “Me” or “You” team, then that means you and I have to choose one of the sides in which to identify.
Let’s pause for a moment and consider a real sport. Visualize with me a basketball court with the stands on each side filled to capacity with fans supporting each team. As the whistle blows to begin the game, the fans have two things for which they’ll cheer. They’ll cheer when their team does something good, such as makes a basket or rebounds a missed shot. They’ll also cheer when the other team doesn’t do something well, such as misses a basket or turns over the ball. The same is true of the fans on the other side of the court. They’ll cheer when their team does something well, and cheer when the other team messes up.
To define that even further, you could say that every action by a player is either in support of his own team, or for the opposing team. For instance, a player on Team A is fouled and he is given the opportunity to make a free throw. If he makes the basket, that action supports his team, and the fans of Team A cheer. When that same player is fouled again, but misses the basket, his action (or lack of action) ends up supporting Team B, and the fans for Team B cheer. Every single shot, rebound, foul, pass or block made by any player either supports his own team, or it supports the other team. There’s not any action a player can make that is neutral, or that doesn’t affect one of the teams. It either helps his team, or it helps the other.
Since we know from a biblical viewpoint that there are really only two teams on the “spiritual” playing field, it’s really not possible for you or me to remain in neutral territory. So, regardless of which team we think we’re playing for, every action we take, and every word we speak, supports either God’s kingdom or Satan’s. When you speak disparagingly of someone, you’re supporting Satan’s realm. When you lie about something, you’re supporting Satan’s team. If you have an opportunity to speak to someone of God’s love, but chicken out, you’re supporting, or playing for Satan’s kingdom.
This bears repeating: You and I cannot remain neutral. We might want to believe that’s the case, but there is no such thing as a neutral team in life. Our actions, our attitudes, our words and our behavior are either for the Lord, or they are against Him. And, if they are against Him, then that means we are living our lives for Satan. That’s a harsh reality, but it’s true.
Here’s another reason why we can’t remain neutral. The Holy Spirit indwelling every believer is constantly performing His sanctifying work in our lives. He continually works to edify and encourage us, and He equips us with the capacity to obey, love and forgive. He persistently woos us to holiness.
On the other hand, Satan’s sole desire where you’re concerned is to make you completely useless for God’s Kingdom. He cheers when you disobey God, or when you compromise your beliefs just to have fun. Don’t take time to have a Quiet Time with the Lord or spend time with Him in prayer? You make Satan very pleased that his toys and distractions have accomplished his purposes. Satan is delighted when you focus more on those areas that are not in harmony with God’s hopes for you, or when you become inactive in those areas that would keep your relationship with the Lord sweet and fresh.
It basically comes down to the age-old battle between the old and new natures. When you don’t allow the Holy Spirit to have any footing or influence in your lifestyle to support your new nature, your old, ungodly and rebellious nature will dominate. Look again at Satan’s ongoing purpose for you. There is not one single item listed that is for your good. He doesn’t love you. Actually, he doesn’t care one iota about you. He’s only interested in what you can do for him, and for his eternal purpose, and there’s no reward in it for you. At every turn he’s recruiting and manipulating you to play for his team, but behind your back he laughs and ridicules you for your spiritual weakness and mediocrity. He mocks you that you have fallen for his camouflages and deceitfulness.
On the other hand, God loves you so much that He gave His Son to die for you. He loves you wholeheartedly and unconditionally, and His ongoing purpose for you is filled with good and immeasurable riches. He never manipulates or tricks you into being effective for His Kingdom. Instead, His desire is for you to please Him willingly and without coercion. In addition, He blesses and rewards your faithfulness and commitment to Him.
The only reward Satan has up his sleeve for you is your own self destruction when you get suckered into his lies.
When put this way, it boggles the mind that any believer would ever choose to play for Satan’s team, or live a lifestyle that supports his goals in any way. He is the personification of selfishness and evil, while God is the embodiment of love and sacrifice. Yet, we tend to fool ourselves into thinking that we can remain neutral, and that our actions don’t hurt or affect anyone other than ourselves. That’s a satanic lie that we have bought into, which of course, is one of his intended goals. When you choose to please yourself, you, in turn, please Satan.
To reiterate what’s been said earlier, there are only two teams on the playing field, and everything you do supports one of them.
“Choose you this day whom you will serve” Joshua 24:15.
So, what’s your decision? Which team do you choose to play for?