The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2:2-6).
If you’ve followed this series, then you might remember that we’ve been considering the horsemen depicted by the first four seals in Revelation 6.
For analogy of these horsemen or “kings,” the horses they ride upon, and the destruction they bring, you can look at Parts 1-5 of this series. Here are some quick links:
- Introduction/Overview: Part 1
- The First Seal: Part 2
- The Second Seal: Part 3
- The Third Seal: Part 4
- The Fourth Seal: Part 5
What are some examples of “kings” we can think about?
In this article, I want to stir up some thoughts about modern-day “kings.” The point is not to discourage or cause anyone to feel condemned, but to encourage productive reflection so that we can seek Jesus to prepare our hearts for deliverance from these forces.
In the most basic terms, a “king” is any being or idea we exalt above Jesus Christ. A “king” will want us to look to him instead of encouraging faith in Jesus. A “king” will encourage us to deny the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, cause pride to overshadow love for the brethren, and blind us on our journey towards obtaining the promises of Jesus through the gospel. This can include many things such as:
- Christian denominations (including “non-denominational”)
- Christian leaders, i.e. pastors, prophets, teachers, and priests
- Political affiliations and government
- Worldly ideas of morality
- Sin and Self
How can a Christian denomination become like a “king?” Belonging to a particular denomination isn’t necessarily wrong, although there are those that are considered to be heretical by many. In any case, there are many sincere Christians found in all denominations.
What makes a denomination a “king” is when loyalty to our denomination becomes more important than a real love of what is true according to Jesus.
A “king” will do whatever it has to in order to remain an authority. This includes:
- Discouraging Questions: What if we are faced with an issue of doctrine or Christian living that contradicts our denomination? Will we question what we are being taught or will we ignore the conviction we feel that tells us something isn’t right?
- Poorly Answered Questions: In many cases, questions are not answered adequately and honestly. Contradicting scriptures are overlooked or explained away without considering the idea fully. Those who raise questions are often shunned and made to feel as if there is something wrong with them.
- Leaders Bound by Tradition: What if you were a church leader and became aware of a teaching commonly held by your denomination that was untrue? Will loyalty to Jesus and truth win, or will you deny the truth in order to retain your position? Questioning the common practices of your denomination could be devastating for a church leadership career.
- Division: A “king” will go to war with other “kings.” All other denominations are wrong, yet this one has the “truth.” This denomination contains the “real” Christians while the others are not. This denomination finds fault with others without considering their own short comings.
- Self-Righteousness and Hypocrisy: All Christians have room to grow in righteousness, but some choose to single out certain outward sins while denying sins that are more easily hidden like pride, vanity, dishonesty, lust, and so on. This encourages Christians to put on an outward show of righteousness, justify their hidden sins, and look at the sins of others too harshly.
- Justifying Sin: A “king” must keep his subjects happy. Why bother with pesky sin when we can take advantage of ideas like grace and forgiveness? Give the people what they want so they will come back and keep our bank account full. Who cares about all of the teachings of Jesus that warn against taking His sacrifice lightly?
- Faithlessness: While sin is being justified, freedom from sin is seen as unobtainable. The Holy Spirit is denied. Trusting in Jesus is replaced by trusting in the church leaders. Many church leaders are more interested in money, status, and power rather than Jesus. Many church leaders are unbelievers.
- Ordination by Man: Church leaders go to school to learn the ways of their “king.” They lead a church and their followers elect various “princes” to perform tasks within the church. Instead of men who are taught of Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, our “kings” are products of man’s systemic approach to the church—a system that is riddled with false teachings, traditions, legalism, and various other forms of corruption. Are there sincere and good men of God within these structures? Absolutely.
You can see some examples of “king” Christian leaders above. In general, these leaders have their own interests in mind. What has attracted them to this position of authority in the first place?
Is it a love for Jesus and the brethren or is it power, status, and money?
Do they have a servant’s demeanor or are they prideful and act as if they have some kind of special relationship with God that others do not have?
Do they create well-formed Christians that are encouraged to grow into spiritual adulthood and fruitful relationship with Jesus, or do they create dependents who cannot think for themselves but look to the “king” for everything?
What is the fruit of their work in Jesus’s name? Do they encourage people to live a more righteous life that mimics Jesus himself, or do they grow rich and famous by diluting the gospel and the truth to make their preaching more lucrative?
Political Affiliations and Government
Should loyalty to a political group cause a Christian to forget love and compassion? No. Should loyalty to a political group cause angry discussions, name calling, and finger-pointing without personal accountability for wrong-doing? No. Should political affiliation be a source of pride? No.
Should political loyalty cause Christians to elect corrupt leaders? No. Should righteousness be forced upon the public using law? Jesus teaches otherwise, so no. This only leads to further rebellion and laws being passed in the opposite direction. This leads to a war on righteousness, not a furtherance of it.
Should trust in the government override trust in Jesus? No.
Worldly Ideas of Morality
Calling evil good and good evil is something the scriptures warn us about. What Jesus deems righteous will usually go against what the world wants because the world wants to gratify the flesh while Jesus wants to build us up in the things of life in the spirit.
There are many such cases of evil as good and good as evil in society today, even among Christians. These ideas become a kind of “king” because failure to adhere to these ideals can come with serious social consequences. Many Christians speak out against these evils, but there’s usually problems they are not addressing that led to the moral decline we see today in the first place.
In any case, the best person’s sin to look at is our own. We have a lot of Christians taking a stand against commonly praised sins and we have a lot of Christians enabling these sins. What we do not have a lot of is personal accountability and repentance. Instead of blaming the world for being worldly, we need to get our own life in order. We need to look at our sin honestly and seek Jesus to help us do better instead of looking at everyone else as worse sinners than ourselves.
More on this in the next article.
Sin and Self
Who is the biggest “king” of our lives? Sin. Sin is bondage and it is the strongest, most deceptive, most alluring leader of our life. Sin is also the most dangerous and damaging to our relationship with Jesus. All of the above “kings” encourage sin in some form, and few if any of them encourage freedom from it.
Why is that?
These worldly “kings” are not of Jesus, but of Satan. These “kings” want to destroy you, not lead you to life everlasting.
Jesus forgives sin, but he also provides freedom from it. As Christians, we are supposed to put Jesus first as the King of our life. In so doing, He will free us from all forces of destruction—especially the forces of sin.
Any “king” of this world that refuses this important and fundamental Christian truth is not of Jesus, but of Satan.
More on this in the next article.
Any “king” that twists good into evil and vice versa, encourages pride, divides the brethren, takes the sacrifice of Jesus for granted, sugar coats the gospel or the teachings and character of Jesus, discourages the pursuit of sinless living through sincere change of heart, encourages righteousness through legalistic means that neglect the inner-self, or sets itself up as an authority in the place of trust in Jesus is not a king we should be following.
All of us have some kind of “king” in our life. However, we “cannot serve two masters,” so we should strive to be rid of these earthly “kings” and seek freedom that only comes when we submit ourselves to Jesus.
Considering the “kings” that rule us is important, but how do we escape them? We will consider that idea in the next article.