Sit, Walk, Stand

How the Kingdom Comes Down in Ephesians

“Ephesians — carefully, reverently, prayerfully considered — will change our lives. It is not so much a question of what we will do with the epistle, but what it will do with us.” (R. Kent Hughes, 1990. Page 16).

Introduction

Paul's letter to the Ephesians is believed to have been written from his house arrest in Rome in the year sixty or shortly thereafter. There is good reason to believe it was originally a letter meant to circulate throughout the churches of Asia Minor. Ephesus was dear Paul's heart. He had established a thriving church and had friends in provincial authority there (Acts 19:31). He leaves Timothy there to help mature the church (I Timothy 1:3). The importance of Ephesus is outlined by John Chrysostom (C. 347-407) in his commentary (Homily on Ephesians, Argument). Chrysostom ignors the importance of Ephesus as a major trade hub, and focuses on its place as a gathering place for philosophers. “These facts I mention, not merely as such, but with a view of showing that Paul would needs take great pains and trouble in writing to these Ephesians. He is said indeed to have entrusted them, as being persons already well-instructed, with his profoundest conceptions; and the Epistle itself is full of sublime thoughts and doctrines.” (Homily on Ephesians, Argument).

We would expect that Paul's emphasis would be to sift through all the various twists and turns of philosophical distortion. Instead he walks strait through what it means to live in the gospel. Sit, Walk, Stand is the title of Watchman Nee's little book on Ephesians and it indicates that the letter is about the how to of following Jesus, or the activity of a Christian. The final chapter, six, is the magnificent arming of the Christian to withstand the adversary. William Gurnall published his first of three massive volumes on “The Christian in Complete Armour” in 1655. His work, still revered by men like Wilkerson and Ravenhill, exposes just how much is packed into Paul's six short chapters.

It is this living as a Christian aspect that I want to touch on here. Although the book has no abrupt transition points, a crude breakup of the letter can be made into chapter one through three, (sitting with Christ), chapter four through the beginning of chapter six, (walking in faith) and finally the middle portion of chapter six, (standing against the counterattack of the enemy).


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Ephesians 1:4-6   “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”

Ephesians 2:5-9   “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Sit

Who is doing all the work here? Of course the answer is God. Whether you are a hyper-Calvinist or a Arminian, you must agree that at this point in outline all the work is done, finished, and all without your help or mine. It goes against our Adamic nature to tarry in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49), to let go and let God work, to seek peace when the rebel rises up (1 Peter 3:11). But unless we come into the presence of the Lord and accept his finished work on our behalf, we haven't even arrived at the foot of the cross. And unless we caste aside all of our righteousness (including all judgements and self-judgements), we have not stepped beyond the penalty of the cross into the glory and the power of the resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ.

We must stop trying to work our way in. As a member of a works righteous cult, I spent many years trying to pray, fast and sacrifice the Kingdom into being. In the end, I found I was no better than Saul on the road to Damascus. Nothing I had done was of any use to the Father or to Jesus. I liken this to a dog I had who would do his business, sniff it, and then turn to me with great glee as if he had created something wonderful. I had to assure him, in kind terms, that it wasn't coming home with us. It is all a matter of trying to walk before the Spirit has arrived to council us and to guide us. Watchman Nee states it well:

“Most Christians make the mistake of trying to walk in order to be able to sit, but that is a reversal of the true order. Our natural reason says, If we do not walk, how can we ever reach the goal? What can we attain without effort? How can we ever get anywhere if we do not move? But Christianity is a queer business! If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing; if we seek to attain something, we miss everything. For Christianity begins not with the big DO, but with the big DONE. Thus Ephesians opens with the statement that God has ‘blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ (1:3) and we are invited at the very outset to sit down and enjoy what God has done for us; not to set out to try and attain it for ourselves.” (Watchman Nee, 1957. Page 2).

Before proceeding, we need to tackle some obvious quarrels. Does this mean, stop witnessing, stop charity, stop praying? Do I have to be perfect before I serve God? What about the great commission? Let me throw you a couple of familiar quotes and then try to sort it out.

Matthew 6:33 and also Luke 12:31   “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Luke 24:49   “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”.

For years, I worked very hard to build the kingdom. I was labeled ‘crazy for God’. But I did not have the Holy Spirit and my relationship to Jesus was nothing but a tip of the hat and a turn of the back. Everything I did was wood, hay and stubble, or worse. Since the unfruitful branches are cut off and thrown into the fire, my eternal prospects were very poor. Was I better off than Saul and his Roman legion storming up the Damascus road? In Matthew 6, The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks of obvious acts of devotion such as prayer and fasting, he delivers the Lord's Prayer, and then finishes with “seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness.” He doesn't say build the Kingdom, he says seek the Kingdom. Why? We are very easily turned. We delude ourselves with images of great reward. The seduction of the spirit begins before we can seal our break from this world. We quite the life of the prodigal son and become the self-righteous brother. As Watchman Nee says, “Nothing has done greater damage to our Christian testimony than our trying to be right and demanding right of others.” (Watchman Nee, 1957. Page 20).

“And all these things shall be added unto you...” (Matthew 6:33), concludes Jesus. If you want heaven to move on behalf of the sick, the poor, the helpless... if you want to see the lost saved... if you want Ephesians chapter 6, the full armour of God, begin by seeking the Kingdom... sit down with Christ... come to peace in Christ. This is why Paul tells his audience that he prays continually for them (Ephesian 1:15-16): that they might receive “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesian 1:17) and that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (Ephesian 1:18, NASB). Adam Clark, commenting on the phrase “all these things shall be added” relates this story:

“A king said to his particular friend, ‘Ask what thou wilt, and I will give it unto thee.’ He thought within himself, ‘If I ask to be made a general I shall readily obtain it. I will ask something to which all these things shall be added:’ he therefore said, ‘Give me thy daughter to wife.’ This he did knowing that all the dignities of the kingdom should be added unto this gift.
“To this verse, probably, belong the following words, quoted often by Clement, Origen, and Eusebius, as the words of Christ: ‘Ask great things, and little things shall be added unto you; ask heavenly things, and earthly things shall be added unto you.’ ” (Adam Clark's Commentary on the Bible. Note to Matthew 6:33).

Our new wave Evangelical enthusiasm brings with it high energy worship, a great enthusiasm for outreach to the poor or to missions, and so the impression is left that the Holy Spirit is at work in mighty way. Unfortunately, it would appear that many recent moves of the Spirit have faded away just as quickly as they appeared. All that remains is loud music and worshipers pining for the glory days. So how do we get to the glory side of the Cross and stay there.


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Ephesians 3:14-21   “I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

The Other Side of the Cross

Practically, how do we sit down with Christ in high places. How do we get from the place of “mia culpa” (my sins), to the praise of His Glory resident within us. The first practical step is to seek Him. Rise early every day and spend time with God. Don't just recite a litany of prayers, praise Him, and sit quietly in His presence so that He can speak to you. Pray often. As a student of prayer it seems there are two powerful models. The most familiar is the long intense devotion pressing deep into the night. We saw this with Evan Roberts of the Welsh Revival, the two elderly widows who sparked the New Hebrides Revival, William Braynard and numerous other examples. On the other hand, there are men like D.L. Moody who rarely prayed for long periods, but, instead made constant small intercessions throughout the day. The point is, to use our former pastor Chris's phrase, press in and keep pressing in.

Secondly, and this is crucial, place everything in God's hands. This is so easy to say, but often very difficult to do. If someone has hurt me, give it to God. If I have fallen into sin for the 9,000th time, give it to God. If I really want something that I am not getting, give it to God. If something is out of order in the community, the country, the church, or wherever, give it to God. When disaster strikes, give it to God. I'm afraid, give it to God. Give it to God and keep giving it to God. To the best of your ability, refrain from picking it up again until there is something practical and in good Godly order that you can do.

Most importantly: Praise Him! When I hear the story of the ten lepers who were healed, but only one returned to praise God (Luke 17:12-19), it immediately recalls to mind a study that Derek Prince did on people who had received significant miraculous healing. Calling on them all a year later, he discovered that nine out of ten where no longer healed, or at least no longer believed that they were healed (Prince, 1998). Bill Johnson quotes Prince as saying if you only have ten minutes to pray, take the first eight minutes to praise God.

Watchman Nee's statement, “If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing” (Watchman Nee, 1957. Page 2) challenged me to rethink assumptions. It is not that the statement represented a new concept, but he was so blunt, and so firm that it was hard push it to the side with subtle excuses. If I sit with Christ, I sit in the seat of power at the right hand of God. If that's the case, where is the power? Or is simply the issue that I haven't gotten to square one, I haven't arrived at the place of the resurrected Lord. In the appendix to War on the Saints is this quote from Tertullian (ca. 160-ca. 220 A.D.):

Tertullian says, in his Apology addressed to the Rulers of the Roman Empire:
“...Let a person be brought before your tribunals who is plainly under demoniacal possession. The wicked spirit, bidden to speak by a follower of Christ, will as readily make the truthful confession that he is a demon, as elsewhere he has falsely asserted that he is a god. Or, if you will, let there be produced one of the god-possessed, as they are supposed--if they do not confess, IN THEIR FEAR OF LYING TO A CHRISTIAN, that they are demons, then and there shed the blood of that most impudent follower of Christ.” (Penn-Lewis, 1912. Appendix).

In case you missed it, this early Christian author and theologian Tertullian suggests that if a Christian is unable to assert authority over a demon, they should be killed as a make-believer. This whole notion of needing to be in Christ where there is power before doing things for Christ certainly challenged me and caused me to seek the Lord. The very next Sunday morning in 8:30 prayer, I gained the briefest opening of the most profound presence of God. The experience which lasted only a matter of seconds produced a fearful trembling and at the same time as an incredible sense of being loved beyond all earthly comprehension.

One last point that needs emphasis: sitting with Christ is not a one time event. You don't sit with Christ until you feel His presence and then go out to do what you think is His will. It might be argued that Tertullian, an important early Christian writer, fell into this trap, as later in life he fell in with the Montanists who accused Christians of being soft. The Montanists biggest heresy appears to be that they believed their ecstatic prophecies were more important than the church authority and even superceding scripture. The writer of the Wikipedia article on Montanism notes a parallel between Montanism and some forms of modern Pentecostalism. I believe the solution is that while we must get up and walk, we must continually run back to sit with Christ until the latter becomes an ingrained habit, and finally we will find ourselves sitting with Christ at the same time that we are walking. Bill Johnson quips, “one baptism, many fillings. Why? We leak.” (Johnson, 2003. Page 72).


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Ephesians 4:1   “I... implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”

Ephesians 1:12   “...to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”

Ephesians 2:10   “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Ephesians 5:1-2   “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

Walk

Walking in compassion is not unique to Christianity, nor is adoration of spiritual things. And even if Christians have set the standards for compassion and self-sacrifice, (I place self-immolation, suicide bombing and the like in a separate and very non-Christian category), those activities cannot be what defines us as Christians. Our hope in Jesus and the praise of His Glory, is what defines us, and our activities, in-so-far as they increase that praise, serve that end. So how do we walk as Christians? Do we wander about praising the Lord? Clearly we must do something.

Let us examine the value of what we are doing. All righteous works, however highly esteemed and laudable in this world, have no luster in them when facing the glory of God. Do I sound too strong? Let us look at two well known quotes, one from Paul and one from Isaiah:

Philippians 3:7-8 “But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ. More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things — indeed, I regard them as dung!” NET.

Isaiah 64:6 “We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight.” NET.

In both cases I have quoted from the New English Translation (NET). Their translators add this footnote to their use of the word ‘dung’, which is also found in the King James: “The word here translated ‘dung’ was often used in Greek as a vulgar term for fecal matter. As such it would most likely have had a certain shock value for the readers. This may well be Paulís meaning here, especially since the context is about what the flesh produces.” In the case of the second quote from Isaiah, only the NET uses the word ‘menstrual’. But a quick check with the Strong's reveals the translation to be accurate in its meaning in the Hebrew. Again this is a particularly strong word. It is shocking to us, and it would have been especially shocking to his audience, for any Hebrew touching the menstrual fluids was considered unclean for seven days (Leviticus 15:19-24). So to return to my earlier example, my dog Sammy, who would sniff his poop and beam with pride, (we often imagined him to say, ‘look what I made’), we often seriously misjudge the true worth of what we bring to God. Scripture forcefully states it, your pride is mis-guided.

Whatever is not rooted and grounded in heaven is of the flesh, and that word in Greek is sarx. This is the same word that we get our word sarcophagus. Everything, every thing, must be rooted and grounded in heaven. That said, the object is not to get us all floating around in big eyed spirituality. The purpose is to drive us to forge a living relationship with Jesus, most often unseen by any but those with spiritual discernment. Based on that relationship we will work in such a way that God is glorified.

Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, says, “you are to be perfect”. Paul, solidly confirms this in his description of how we are to walk:

Matthew 5:48   “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Ephesians 5:3-6   “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

There are a lot of ways to walk with God. Exactly what your particular walk is isn't as important as whether the walk measures up to the standards of God and adheres to the leading of the Spirit. To walk in this world as an imitator of God sounds simple, but experience tells a different tale. Jesus, in the Beatitude (Matthew 5), is quite strict. Paul in Ephesians 5 refuses to provide any wiggle room. To walk worthy of Christ is not possible without passing to the other side of the cross. Any thing else is a foolish illusion.

Do not get the picture that you must hide in the closet until Christ has utterly transformed you. I don't want to deviate too far from the topic at hand, but John Calvin addresses this well in his Institutes of the Christian Religion:

“See how our works lie under the curse of the law if they are tested by the standard of the law. But how can unhappy souls set themselves with alacrity to a work from which they cannot hope to gain any thing in return but cursing? On the other hand, if freed from this severe exaction, or rather from the whole rigor of the law, they hear themselves invited by God with paternal levity, they will cheerfully and alertly obey the call, and follow his guidance. In one word, those who are bound by the yoke of the law are like servants who have certain tasks daily assigned them by their masters. Such servants think that nought has been done; and they dare not come into the presence of their masters until the exact amount of labour has been performed. But sons who are treated in a more candid and liberal manner by their parents, hesitate not to offer them works that are only begun or half finished, or even with something faulty in them, trusting that their obedience and readiness of mind will be accepted, although the performance be less exact than was wished.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Book Third, Chapter 19, Section 5.)

The point is to keep seeking a deeper relationship, an ability to sit with Christ, through the four point outlined above: 1. time spent with Jesus in prayer, in study, in stillness (i.e. quiet times), 2. placing all trust in God, 3. always praising God for what He has done and what He is doing (set your stones of remembrance) and 4. keep on doing these things. But you can't hide all the time. It's Monday morning. It's time to get up and go to work. Have your quiet time, do what you do and go.

I think we forget just how effective we can be by just living with the Spirit of God on us and in us. I had an employer who came to me, quite unexpectedly, to say, “Bill, you make me want to be a better Christian.” Several years later it happened again. Despite horrible setbacks in the first man's life, he is now actively serving at his church. He has moved from rewards in this world to rewards in the next. All I ever did was share what I was doing to get closer to Jesus, and what was happening as a result. Is that not the gospel? Is that not the good news? The point is that much of walking is living your life in the presence of God.

“The Christian Life is not found on the Cross. It is found because of the Cross.” (Bill Johnson, 2003. Page 145).

Ephesians 3:20   “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us...”

Colossians 1:29   “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

“We are back again in the first section of Ephesians. What is the secret strength of the Christian life? Whence has it its power? Let me give you the answer in a sentence: The Christian's secret is his rest in Christ. His power derives from his God-given position. All who sit can walk, for in the thought of God the one follows the other spontaneously. We sit forever with Christ that we may walk continuously before men” (Watchman Nee, 1957. Page 23).

There are times when prayerful attention to God will bring very specific instructions from God, sometimes the instructions can contradict our idea of God's desire. What better example than Ananias. Not the Ananias, who with his wife Saphira lied to the Holy Spirit, but the one who goes to heal Saul of Tarsus. Ananias is in Damascus where many Christians have fled following heavy persecution in Jerusalem led by a zealous Jew named Saul of Tarsus. Now the Christian community in Damascus is trembling in fear because this same man is coming to Damascus with a full Roman legion. His intentions are to destroy the Christian community. When we pick up the story we find Ananias deep in prayer.

Acts 9:10-18   “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake.’ So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized.”

Ananias's walk took him someplace very uncomfortable, in fact somewhere very dangerous. Did he even dare to tell any of his Christian brothers for fear that they would stop him? We know this story because it is key to one of the most powerful events in the Book of Acts. But what if Ananias chose to ignore the voice? What if he went to get bad advice from other Christians? Where there others that God spoke to first, but chose not to go? Where are they now? While our walk may at first be nothing more than a cleaned up version of the life we had before, God wants to lead you to new places.

Look carefully at Ananias: 1. He was in prayer. He was seeking God. 2. When God said to go, he hesitated, he appealed to God, but when God told him again to go, Ananias trusted God and went. 3. We can praise the faith of Ananias now, 2000 years later, because he baptised the finest of all the warriors for Christ that day.

At one point Chris, my pastor, and I differed on an important issue that required a great deal of deliberation. I didn't think that Chris was right. In fact, I thought his council to be un-Biblical. I took the issue to God and wrestled it out, until I felt God wanted me to comply. I still wasn't sure if God was endorsing the council or simply promising to make it all right. I did the only thing I could do, I said, “God I am going to do this, but I am asking you to protect everyone involved, and I am trusting you completely.” Immediately, I received the baptism of tongues, which was truly remarkable for someone brought up Presbyterian. God gave me assurance of His presence and there I was, loudly praising Him right there in my car. The unexpected happens with God.

The closer together our sitting and our walking become, the more specifically God can direct our steps. The closer our steps match God's call, the more fruitful we will be. The more fruitful we are, the greater our reward. But nothing happens unless, we press into the presence of the living Lord and tailor our walk through this world according to His direction.

There are far too many people in this world who act the part of Christians, who imitate the sons of God. If the aphorism “fake it until you make it” is true, then they are on the right track. But road onward is so littered with failures at the highest levels that it is clear that we must continue to seek permanence in our position on the other side of the cross. This brings us to the final point. As much as we desire to solidify our place with the resurrected Lord Jesus, there is an adversary whose desire is to pull us away.

Ephesians 5:15-19   “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”

At this point, your usefulness as a soldier for the Lord begins to expand exponentially. All those things that were in your heart to do way back when are possible if they are still desirable. At this point, your walk begins to carry you deeper and deeper into enemy territory. For that, you will need the whole armour of God.


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Ephesians 6:10-12   “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

“Like a crown prince in the cradle, the conscience is helpless to defend itself. Satan would quickly usurp the throne if heaven did not take the saint into protection. To crush the insurrection, God conquers the believer's heart and brings His own will into it to govern the conscience. But just as in a conquered city some yield eagerly to the new government while others continuously plot its overthrow, so some parts of our old nature refuse to give up without a fight. For this reason, it takes the same power to keep a heart as to win it at first.” (William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, 1864 edition. Volume One, page 38).

“So far, the Apostle taught how a sinner becomes a new man. He has described the new birth which gives us the new being, as we are taught in John 3:3. Now he teaches the works of the new birth which such a person presumes in vain who has not yet become a new man. For the being precedes works of the new birth; but before the being first comes the ‘undergoing’. So there follow one upon another; the becoming, the being and the working.” (Martin Luther summing up the first eleven chapters of Romans. Commentary on Romans, 1976. Page 166). [The translator's in-line gloss has been omitted.]

Stand

Now we stand. The word here in the Greek, hiseimi, is a prolonged or more forceful use of the primary word for stand. The meaning is to firmly establish, to hold or sustain the authority or force of something. When you walk, established in the Spirit, the enemy will come. He will try to knock you down.

Stand? Why are we not attacking the devil? Admit it, I am not the only one thinking this way, are we not taking back the land? The point that Paul has been making is that when we place ourselves in Christ, the death, burial and resurrection are yours, you are the land, and the taking was done two-thousand years ago. The devil is trying to knock you back out of the Kingdom before you are firmly established. Jesus has already taken the ground and Satan has lost. The glory belongs to Him. Your part is to defend a patch of that ground through the weapons which He will provide. When you struggle as if the devil has the all the rights, and you are trying to take them away, you are trying to fight the battle that Jesus already won, as if Jesus failed. This is the precise belief I was taught (literally), and why I struggled so hard and so fruitlessly. Jesus is the Victor! He won! All we have to do is Sit, Walk and Stand in Him. Listen again to Watchman Nee:

“When you fight to get the victory, then you have lost the battle at the very outset. Suppose Satan sets out to assault you in your home or in your business. Difficulties mount up, misunderstandings arise, a situation that you can neither deal with nor escape threatens to overwhelm you. You pray, you fast, you struggle and resist for days, but nothing happens. Why? You are trying to fight into victory, and in doing so are relinquishing to the enemy the very ground that is yours.” (Watchman Nee, 1957. Page 45).

In Christ, the truth is yours. In Christ, righteousness is yours. In Christ, the good news of peace is yours. In Christ, faith is yours. In Christ, is salvation. In Christ, the sword of the Word of God is placed in your hand. Sitting with Christ Jesus, you have the most complete and effective armament possible. The images Paul uses come from the equipping of a Roman soldier, the best equipped and best trained soldier of the day. From the layered shield designed to trap and quench flaming arrows to the nail studded boots designed for traction. You are equipped with the best.

The picture so far is defensive, I believe that there is a powerful attack posture as well.

Ephesians 6:18-20   “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Here we see Paul, who we know is called to be an apostle, asking for prayer. Why? Paul is venturing into places that the Devil has long coveted as his own. He hasn't mounted an evangelistic crusade, he is walking from town to town, by the direction and power of God, and he is changing lives by the power of God. Salvation is coming. It is Satan who musters his army, a stadium full of chanting idol worshipers, incensed priests and kings, or angry stone throwing mobs. Paul is asking prayer that he might be fully strengthened to stand against all the fury of hell and hold out the gospel of peace.

More than two centuries of bitter persecution against the church did nothing to diminish the luster of Paul's message. On the contrary, his message to stand seems born out by the Bishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom (c.347-407):

“Nevertheless, though the devil had set so many traps, not only did he not shake the church, but instead he made her more brilliant. For during the period when she was not troubled she did not teach the world as effectively as she now does to be patient, to practice self-restraint, to bear trials, to demonstrate steadfast endurance, to scorn the things of the present life, to pay no regard to riches, to laugh at honor, to pay no heed to death, to think lightly of life, to abandon homeland, households, friends, and close relations, to be prepared for all kinds of wounds, to throw oneself against the swords, to consider all the illustrious things of the present life—I am speaking of honor, glories, power, and luxury—as more fragile than the flowers of springtime.” (Ward, Learning Theology With the Church Fathers, 2002 Page 204. Quoting John Chrysostom from On Providence).

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*All Bible quotes are from the New American Standard Version unless otherwise indicated.

Wm.W.Wells – July 5, 2010

Copyright © 2010 Wm.W.Wells. May be freely copied without alteration.