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Revelation by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:56 mins 46 secs

The Pathology of the Kosmic System


It is two elements, Satan's independence of God or autonomy and his hostility or antagonism to God that are the core elements of Satanic though—that the creature thinks that he can live independently of the creator. Once the creature thinks that he can live independently of the creator he begins to develop his own understanding of life, of creation, of everything within creation, in antagonism to God. Once he begins to live independently of God it will be long before he becomes antagonistic to God. This works itself out throughout human history as what the Bible calls worldliness. Once of the primary ways in which Satan influences the human race is through this concept developed in the New Testament called worldliness. There are three enemies in the Christian life: the world, the flesh [sin nature] and the devil.


We need to know how the cosmic system works. Most of the time in the New Testament the "world" is translated from the Greek word kosmos [kosmoj]. In the negative sense t describes the entire arrangement and system of thinking arrayed against God. It has as its primary meaning, order, arrangement and adornment. One meaning of kosmos has to do with the inhabited world, as in John 3:16: "for God so loved the world," i.e. the inhabited planet. But in other passages the concept of "world" has to do with the thinking of those who inhabit the planet over against or in contrast to the thinking of God. In James chapter three the thinking of the world is described as the wisdom of the world and it is described as being earthly, natural and demonic. All the systems of human thought that are independent of God these basic characteristics of Satanic thought—autonomy from God, the thought that somehow we make meaning of life, somehow make life work, somehow organise our marriages, our society, everything that we do in such a way that by excluding God we can find meaning, purpose, stability and happiness. This is all part of this concept of the cosmos. In the Old Testament the idea of order and arrangement is foundational to the creation describes in Genesis chapter one. It is very clear from the way that the creation is described that there is a plan, that there is order and progression.     


In contrast to what God has created in terms of a universe that has perfect order, balance and arrangement, we have the introduction of chaos and disorder. This occurs once Lucifer falls, and once man falls is the restored creation of Genesis one, then there is the introduction of chaos. Chaos is the opposite of cosmos which has the idea of balance and arrangement. But the word kosmos is never used in the LXX in the same sense that it is used under the development in the New Testament. The New Testament develops the idea that kosmos represents Satan's attempt to bring order and beauty out of the chaos that was introduced by sin. His goal is to show that he can be God, and in order to do that he has to bring about stability, order and beauty within creation apart from God. So these various systems that all come under the category of cosmic thinking are all oriented to trying to bring order, stability and beauty out of a world that is chaotic as a result of sin. So at its very core it is going to want to deny the concept of sin, the concept of depravity, the concepts of rebellion as associated with the Satanic fall.


When we think about the word kosmos, at the very core of its meaning it has the idea of order, adornment, it brings out the idea of something that is attractive and beautiful. So when this is applied to the false systems of thinking that developed in Satan's world one thing we see is that they have an attractiveness, an appeal, a beauty that has an affinity to the sin nature. This is why it is so important to understand the concept of worldliness in our generation. Whoever you are, wherever you live and whenever you live you are surrounded by a form of cosmic thinking. That form of cosmic thinking has a direct affinity to your sin nature, and when we are living apart from God then our sin nature just latches on to those values in the cosmic system of our day and uses them to rationalise, justify and strengthen the autonomy of the sin nature. It often leaves us blinded to the influence of our own sin nature. It is through the cosmic system that Satan primarily blinds the minds of unbelievers, 2 Corinthians 4:4. He does that through appealing to the sin nature through his various systems that seem to make life work apart from God. So when we look at this word kosmos we see that it picks up certain nuances related to the universe, related to the world of idea, related to values in some contexts, and also to the concept of beauty and aesthetics. So it is a word that does a lot of work. It has a lot of facets to it, depending on the context. 


In theology the word kosmos has to do with all systems of thought that are developed in independence of God. We live in a world today that refuses to think about methods. As long as the results are okay—as long as we have a large church, a long as we fill a stadium with converts, as long as people seem to grow closer to whatever they call God—then we want to give that the stamp of approval. However, we must remember that a right thing done in a wrong way is still wrong, that method is as important as what we are trying to accomplish. Method often reflects a viewpoint that is actually antagonistic to biblical Christianity, so that we can be engaged in evangelism, in church, in worship, and we can do it in such a way that conforms to the methods of the world. What we have done is we have compromised our message and the truth by how we are going about the Christian life. Satan promotes these systems of thought and they appear to work; he wouldn't have much success if they didn't appear to work. So there is a lot that we can go to to validate all these different systems but at the core they operate on these twin supports of autonomy and antagonism. 

The cosmos is a vast order or system that Satan has promoted, which conforms to his ideals, aims, and methods. It is civilization now functioning apart from God—a civilization in which none of its promoters really expect God to share, who assign to God no consideration in respect to their projects; nor do they ascribe any causativity to Him. This system embraces its godless governments, conflicts, armaments, jealousies, its education, culture, religions of morality, and pride. It is that sphere in which man lives. It is what he sees, what he employs. To the uncounted multitude it is all they ever know so long as they live on this earth. It is properly styled the satanic system, which phrase is in many instances a justified interpretation of the so-meaningful word, cosmos. It is literally a cosmos diabolicus. – Louis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 2, pp. 77, 78.

A synonym that comes into play here is often translated "world," the Greek word aion [a)iwn]. It is in this sense what relates to what Germans describe as zeitgeist. aion is the word for age, the time period, so it has a temporal aspect, whereas kosmos looks more at the order and in some case the physicality of the concept. The Germans coined a word in the 19th century, zeitgeist, meaning ths spirit of the times, the thinking of the times, the general intellectual and world cultural climate of an era. Another word is worldview, which as to do with that basic set of beliefs that people hold that enable them to organise the data, the information, in the world. That is its core definition.

When we come to Romans 12:2 we read a familiar passage: NASB "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." The word "world" in that verse is not kosmos but aion. It has the idea of the thinking of the time. If we look at our world today we live in a transition period. Some people say that we are emerging from modernism into postmodernism. So that term "emerging" in that context has been applied to a new heretical direction in the church called the emergent church movement. It is talking about how we have to have a new concept of church, a new concept of worship, a new message, because we now live in postmodern times and we have emerged from modern times. So we live in a culture today that is dominated by two ideas: modernism and postmodernism. Postmodern is also based on pure relativism whereas modernism is based on a very optimistic view that man on his own can answer all the questions of life and bring in a utopic society simply on the basis of his own ability. Both systems reject the concept that man is a creature created by God but in a fallen state. So we are not to be conformed to the belief system in which we live, the culture around us. There is a contrast between how a believer thinks.

We may have been born is a Christian home, a home of unbelievers, of atheists, a home dominated by some other world religion or philosophy, but as we grew up we were also taught various things about the nature of reality. We heard those from our peers, from teachers and professors in schools and universities, and as we grew up as an individual we began to make choises as to what we were going to think and believe about the nature of reality, the world around us. We formed our own concept of what life was all about, and into that concept we included a number of different factors. If a person is not a Christian then whatever his thinking is composed of it is not based on truth—truth as the Bible defines it, absolute truth. But once a person becomes a believer he can have a concept of absolute truth that is grounded in an autonomous creator: the Triune God, not just any creator but a creator who is composed of three eternal, co-equal persons. That becomes ultimate truth, and ultimate truth is oriented to the thinking of that creator. So once again we are brought back to this concept of thought and once we become a believer we can have our thinking changed or transformed, and this is the whole process of the Christian life. It is fundamentally a process of changing how we think. The trouble is that once we get saved, and even if we are saved at a young age, we still inbibe a lot of cosmic values as we grow older until we begin to learn enough about the Bible, learn enough doctrine to really be able to understand these things. It takes time to grow and to change and to have our thinking transformed and the only thing that can do it is a consistent detailed study of the whole counsel of God.

A thirty-minute homily on Sunday morning is completely insifficient to transform the thinking of people who are virtually brainwashed day in and day out by the thought systems of the culture around them. We don't realise how much we are bombarded with these ideas that come across in films, television shows, art, music, periodicals, and even just the way the news is packaged and formulated conveys certaion values and ideas. Unless we have an external vantage point by which we can evanuate these things then we become influenced by them and get sucked into the thinking. The whole process of the believer is just learning to think more objectively and critically about the world around him, and the only way he can do that is by having a thorough understanding of the Word of God; that is the standard, that is what gives us that objective vantage point to understand these things. So we have not to become conformed to the world. In some sense then we have to not become conformed to the worldview, the zeigeist around us; we have to understand something about them. If we don't know what they are we don't know how to avoid getting sucked into their thinking.

Cosmic thinking or the systems that are devised in cultures are designed to enable mankind to explain life, to solve problems, to build civilisations—and that involves everything related to law, politics, marriage, social life, all of which flow out of cosmic thinking—to structure his relationship apart from God. That is the core concept: he is going to do everything but he does it apart from God. So we can do a lot of things that have an affinity with the Bible but because they are grounded on something that is independent of God it has adopted a Satanic form of thinking.

There are two basic reasons why it is important to study csmic thinking. The first is for the purpose of evangelism. We need to understand the thinking of those to whom we are communicating the gospel and to be able in the process of explaining the gospel to them to juxtapose the gospel to false forms of thinking that characterise this unbeliever's thought. When we do this we are following a set biblical pattern. This doesn't mean that every time we witness to someone that we are going to get into some deep conversations related to these things.

It has been pointed out by numerous scholars that almost everything said in Genesis chapter one is a direct counterpoint to the belief system of the Canaanites who were the culture the Jews were going to be exposed to once they went into the Promised Land. So they were taught about God's creation but not in isolation. Words, terms and concepts are used that have specific connotations that were in contrast to the thought forms and cosmology of the Canaanites. When we go further down in Scriputre to the ten plagues on the Egyptians in Exodus what those plagues show is that God has a sense of humour when it comes to the false religious systems of the Egyptians because He is going to use these plagues to show that the whole Egyptian pantheon, the whole Egyptian cosmogony, is incapable of handling the issues of life.  Each of the plagues used something out of the Egyptian culture and turned it against the Egyptians to show that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was the creator God who was over and above any of the gods or goddesses that autonomous man could invent.

We see the same kind of thing when Elijah is on Mount Carmel. Elijah comes to Ahab and announces that there is going to be a drought and there would be a drought until he, Elijah, decides that it will rain. This is set over against the fact that Ahab has married Jezebel. Jezebel is a Phoenician whose father is the high priest of Baal worship in Phoencia, and she has introduced Baalism and fertility worship into the northern kingdom of Israel. Baal is the storm god, the god of rain. So the fact that they are now worshipping Baal in the northern kingdom yet it is Elijah who says that by virtue of his relationship with Yahweh who promises discipline in Deuteronomy upon people that there would not be rain, and he was going to stop the rain; see if your god can change anything. So there is no change and for Ahab years go by and there is no rain, the people are beginning to panic, and God finally brings Elijah out of hiding to Mount Carmel where he has this showdown with the priests of Baal and the priests of Asherah that demonstrates the power of God over against the false systems, the false thinking of men. We see this all the way down in to the New Testament, for example Acts 17.

In evangelising we have to have an understanding of different cultures so that we can, through the power of the Holy Spirit, make the gospel as clear as we can as we interact with them. Peter says this is 1 Peter 3:15 NASB "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts [thinking], always {being} ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."

Another reason that we come to understanding cosmic thinking around us is because we have all grown up with it. Every one of us is influenced in ways beyond what we would be comfortable in if it were truly exposed to us and we would probably be shocked at how much our own thinking has been influenced by the cosmic thinking around us. So the second reason we study worldliness or the cosmic system is to understand how we have been affected in our own thinking. Because if we are going to exchange the cosmic ideas in our own soul with the eternal truths of God's Word—and sometimes these may seem to be very similar ideas—then by studying the thinking of the culture, the civilisation around us, the zeitgeist of our own era, we come to understand the thoughts that have affected our own souls.

When biblical truth is taught from the pulpit what happens in almost an unconscious way for most of us is that we take that principle and envelop it in our human viewpoint frame of reference and it becomes reshaped, rethought and transformed, almost instantaneously, and rather than transforming or changing our thinking it is just shifted around and we stay in our own comfort zone. Because of the autonomy of the sin nature and the arrogance and hostility of the sin nature to truth, if we are not careful we reshape biblical truth into our own frame of reference.

James 4:4 NASB "You [spiritual] adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." The Bible juxtaposes these two concepts: that you can think like the world or you can think biblically. You can't do both, they are mutually exclusive. The challenge to every believer is to learn to think as God thinks. When we don't what happens is that it not only affects our own spiritual life, drags us down, but we are living our life on the basis of a pseudo system, a false system, and sooner or later it will come crashing down around us.

Eventually we have to realise that we are in the devil's world and we are not supposed to be polishing the brass on a sinking ship, as J. Vernon McGee used to say, because the culture is going to end. It is a pagan culture and our job as believers is to be in the world but not of the world. We are not to think as the world thinks. That doesn't mean that we distance ourselves like some groups. Satan is the ruler of the cosmic system and the only solution is the truth of God's Word. The only way that we come to understand how to live and how to think is through a consistent study of the Word of God where we probe it in all of its depths. It is not something that we just skim over the top, pick up a few ideas, and go home and say we feel so good about church this morning, but where we are challenged to think more deeply about every area of our lives as a result of what God's Word says.