SPIRITUAL WARFARE - Part I
Ephesians 6:10-14—“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore.”
THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS
The book of Ephesians is often referred to as the "queen of the epistles.” Perhaps this is because of its content, which deals with exhortation and encouragement relative to the believer's relationship with Christ. It does contain reproof and correction, as is true of all Scripture, but the primary purpose of Paul’s letter was to build up the believer in the knowledge of the bounty and blessings established for him in Christ Jesus.
The book itself is divided into two major divisions. The first division contains doctrine and tells the believer what he or she needs to believe. The second half of the epistle is fundamentally practical. Once the Christian “knows” something, that knowledge goes to waste if it is not carried out in everyday practice and living. Chapters 1 through 3 are, therefore, doctrinal. Chapters 4 through 6 are predominantly practical application. Also, within these two major divisions, there are three subsections (as I see it) that correspond with the words sit, walk, and stand. I am not the first author to use this designation, but I feel very strongly that these are the book’s proper divisions. The word sit is the dominating idea covering Chapters 1 through 3. The word walk maintains the theme from the start of Chapter 4, Verse1, until Chapter 6, Verse 9. The word stand is the motif of Chapter 6, Verse10, to the close of the book. We will come to learn that before a believer can truly be victorious in spiritual warfare, he must learn how to sit, how to walk, and how to stand.
The word sit speaks of the Christian who is resting in Christ’s finished work. We draw this word from Ephesians 2:6, where the Bible says, “And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”
When one sits, it is indicative of rest, even as Christ who was crucified, was buried, experienced resurrection, ascended to the right hand of God, and sat down. There is no more work that needs to be done relative to God’s redemption plan. The author of our salvation, Jesus Christ, finished the work on Calvary and sits now at the Father’s right hand in a place of glorification and preeminence.
The believer enters into Christ's finished work and is granted the benefits that only faith in that finished work can bring. Time and space do not allow me to list all the benefits of the Cross here, but we must come to understand that all of these benefits are granted to the believer on the basis of faith and grace. The believer places his or her faith in Christ and Him crucified and based on that alone, he begins instantly to receive benefits. We must learn to rest in this truth.
Jesus said, "Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mat. 11:28). Hebrews 4:11 declares that the believer is to “labour therefore to enter into that rest.” Our labor is the work of faith. God’s response to properly placed faith is to extend grace to the one whose faith is in His Son alone. Therefore, we are to rest and consistently rely upon the process of grace and faith.
RESTING IN HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS
The believer does not labor, work for, or earn God’s righteousness. It is freely imputed whenever the believing sinner places his or her faith in the finished work of the Cross. Paul taught that man could not be justified by what he did when he wrote in Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” and again in Romans 4:5, where he stated, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
The believer will never rise positionally above the imputed righteousness of Christ. His condition should rise by applying the correct biblical process of sanctification to his life, but he will never attain to a higher position of righteousness than the one he has been freely given one second after his initial salvation experience. Therefore, the believer is to rest or sit in the knowledge that God sees us as righteous as long as our faith remains pure in Christ and the Cross as the sole means of salvation and sanctification.
RESTING IN HIS PROTECTION
Not only does the believer rest in the process of grace and faith, and not only does the believer rest in the imputed righteousness of Christ, he is also to rest in the knowledge that his life is protected by God the Father as a result of his being put into Christ Jesus at salvation.
There is a hedge of protection around every believer, and Satan does not have the authority to cross that hedge unless given permission by God Himself. Colossians 3:3 says, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” To be “hid” implies both concealment and safety—both invisibility and security. In other words, the believer is completely protected.
The very word translated as the word saved, as written in Ephesians 2:8, indicates that every believer is to be saved, delivered, and protected. As well, it is sometimes translated as healed. So, when the believer takes on Jesus Christ as Saviour by grace through faith, he is promised to experience salvation, deliverance, protection, and healing.
Isn’t it time that you learn how to sit and rest in the finished work of Christ? It is imperative that we understand this concept before we enter into true spiritual warfare.
This article will be continued in the March issue of The Evangelist.