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The Costume Kingdom

A Quest For More

mas·quer·ade: to pretend to be someone or something that you are not. 

The bottom line: the most dangerous thing about the kingdom of self is how easily it masquerades as the kingdom of God. 

As a sinner, I am still seeking to be the king of a costume kingdom. You see, the problem with the little kingdom (the civilization of self) is that it dresses up and puts on the mask of the big kingdom (the kingdom of God). It puts on the mask of things that are righteous and good, while it is capturing the heart for the glory of self. The most dangerous kinds of self-focus are those that take on the form of the good things of the kingdom of God.

[T]he kingdom of self is most dangerous when it takes on the contours of the kingdom of God. It is quite possible for you to be convinced that you are living for the transcendent glories of the kingdom of God when you are, in fact, living for yourself. Be warned! Be scared! The little kingdom is a costume kingdom, and it is deviously promoted by a costume king—Satan himself. The little kingdom will quite regularly don the latex masks of outward participation in worship, obedience, and ministry. It will appear as though it is serving the King of kings and Lord of lords, when daily it is bowing before the throne of self. Driven by earth-bound treasures and anxiety-bound needs, its worship can only be the worship of self.

It is very important to note that the most dangerous idols for all of us are those that are easily Christianized. Selfishness is most dangerous when it masquerades as service. Self-focus is most powerful when it dons the costume of love. Earthly treasures are most seductive when they take on the appearance of spiritual need. Idols do their nastiest work when they wear the latex mask of God. Because the little kingdom is a costume kingdom, it presents a near and present danger to everyone who has committed himself to the kingdom of God.

The Fruit of the Costume Kingdom

A lack of excitement and enthusiasm in the gospel. It is amazing how casual we can be about the glory of the gospel! Surely some of this is the result of familiarity, but as I examine my own life and spend time with others, I am convinced that something deeper is operating here. When the gospel (being welcomed into God’s presence to live for his glory) is no longer the end, but a means to an end, then my enthusiasm will not be for the gospel, but for the “stuff” that I think it will give me.

Disappointment with God and/or Christianity. In almost thirty years of counseling, I cannot tell you how many believers I have encountered who were either disappointed with God or disillusioned with Christianity. . . Their disappointment with God or Christianity is not that God has failed in his faithfulness or love or that the teachings of Scripture have not proven to be true. No, they are disappointed because they thought that God’s love and the principles of Scripture would result in certain things in their lives. When these things failed to materialize, it was hard not to be disappointed.

We will tend to take on the image of our little kingdom treasures. Rather than developing the traits of Christian character, which are the result of pursuing and treasuring Christ, I will take on the qualities of my Christ-replacement. This is why so many people in our churches are not growing in Christ-likeness. To the degree that Jesus is not the treasure I seek, I will not be progressively taking on his likeness. Instead, I will begin to look more and more like the treasure of the kingdom of self that I am actually living for.

The final question: in your everyday life right now, where are you telling yourself that you are living for god when you are really living for yourself?
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Adapted from A Quest For More. Excerpt may not be reproduced without the express written permission of New Growth Press. To purchase this and other resources, please visit

© 2008 by Paul David Tripp. Used by permission of New Growth Press. All rights reserved.

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