The Clash Of The Kingdoms

God created man to rule. One of the principal commands given to man was the fact that he was to take dominion over the earth. Man was to take this world that God gave him and create a kingdom. Everything from the interiority of man’s individual life to the structures that govern societies was to be ordered under the lordship of our Creator. There was to be a deliberate, conscious acknowledgment of God’s authority over all of life. 

God granted the man the authority to establish and grow this kingdom. However, the man established a different sort of kingdom. Instead of a kingdom that would grow in righteousness throughout the world, man yielded his authority to the serpent and, with him, to Sin and Death. Sin-and-Death ruled the kingdom of the world. Paul speaks like this in Romans 5 and 6. The problem in the world is not just a little moral straying here and there. We are not merely fighting bad habits. There is an entrenched, ruling culture, a whole system of principalities and powers, under whose lordship we are born. Our hearts as well as our societal structures are all under its dominion. Our battle with Sin-and-Death is bigger than many of us may realize. 

What man needs–what the entire created order needs–are not just a few adjustments here-and-there to get it back on track. The created order needs the destruction of this kingdom, which is nothing less than the remaking of the world as it was created under Adam’s rule. 

The reign of Sin-and-Death must be broken. But how? Another Adam. There must be a man appointed by God the Father to take the vocation of Adam. That man is Jesus Christ. He is the second and last Adam, the new and faithful lord of the creation.

The remaking of the world is not an easy task. What was done in the first Adam must be undone in the last Adam before the kingdom of God can be established in the world. The second Adam must deal with the powers of Sin-and-Death and defeat them. As the last Adam, Jesus submitted to the powers of Sin-and-Death at the cross, representing the whole creation. When he died the world died. Death of this sort brings an end to the reign of Sin-and-Death. If the world is completely dead over which they rule, there is nothing left to rule. 

In Christ the kingdom of Sin-and-Death has come to an end. But the death of the old kingdom is not the end of the story. Adam was to govern a kingdom to maturity. If Jesus is the last Adam, then this is what he must do as well. But how can he do that if he is dead? He can’t. That’s why God established him as the true Adam when he raised him from the dead. He gave him all authority in heaven and earth, establishing him as Lord over all creation in order to see this kingdom project to completion.

All of this affects us where we live in our day-to-day existence. Paul tells us in Romans 6 that, through our baptism, we have died and risen with Christ. That means that we no longer live in the kingdom of Sin-and-Death. That is not our culture, and Sin is not our Lord. Because we are in Christ that kingdom doesn’t have dominion over us. We are a part of the kingdom that he has established. As such, we are to be assimilating into the “Christ kingdom-culture,” which means not living as if we are still in the kingdom of Sin-and-Death.

Continuing to live dominated by sin is a rejection of your new citizenship. It is as if you have been delivered from the cruel tyranny of North Korean communism into a place of freedom, but you are still desiring and living as if you are in North Korea! Or, in the biblical story, it is as if you have been delivered from Egypt but you continue to live as if you are still there. Grace delivers you from these things. Grace is not a validation of the culture of Sin-and-Death.

The resurrection of Jesus and your participation in it through baptism means that you should be living consciously and deliberately under the lordship of Jesus. And not only you, but also the entirety of the society he created: the church. There is no excuse for our churches to live dominated by sinful divisions that come from our pride, anger, and malice. That is not the culture of the kingdom in which we live. Whenever we live like that we are rejecting our citizenship and acting as if we are still a part of the old Adamic kingdom. While we celebrate Easter we are denying the power of the resurrection.

Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies or in the body of Christ. Sin shall not have dominion over you.