Prov. 1:17 π Mt. 16:22 π Mt. 18:18 π Mt. 23:27-28 π Lk. 10:19; 2nd; 3rd π Jn. 8:32 π Acts 5:3 π Acts 10:39 π Acts 24:16 π Rom. 6:4 π Rom. 6:5 π Rom. 6:11; 2nd π Rom. 13:12; 2nd π Rom. 13:14; 2nd π 1 Cor. 12:26 π 2 Cor. 2:11 π Gal. 3:27 π Eph. 1:17-22 π Eph. 1:18 π Eph. 1:21 π Eph. 2:5 π Eph. 2:5-6 π Eph. 2:6 π Eph. 3:10 π Eph. 5:11 π Eph. 6:10 π Eph. 6:10-12 π Eph. 6:11; 2nd; 3rd π Eph. 6:12; 2nd π Eph. 6:13; 2nd; 3rd π Eph. 6:14; 2nd π Eph. 6:14-17 π Eph. 6:15 π Eph. 6:16; 2nd π Eph. 6:17; 2nd π Eph. 6:18 π Heb. 1:6 π Heb. 5:14 π Rev. 1:5 π Rev. 12:10 π Rev. 12:11
The clearest unveiling of the way to the life in the heavenly sphere in Christ is given in the Epistle to the Ephesians, and it follows aptly the letter to the Galatians which may be called the "crucifixion" Epistle, as the letter to the Ephesians might in contrast be called the Epistle of the heavenly life. Paul having heard of the faith in Christ of the Ephesians Christians, prays that they may be given a "spirit of wisdom and of insight," and have the eyes of their hearts "illuminated" or "filled with light," so that they might know their calling, and "how surpassing is the power which He has shown toward us who believe, exampled in the strength of that might" when He displayed it in Christ by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His own right-hand in the heavenly realms, high above all other government and authority and power and dominion, and "put all things under His feet." ( Eph. 1:17-22 C.H. and Weymouth; top)
Here the Apostle clearly refers to the angelic hierarchy which includes both the good and the evil powers, for the angels of God all worship the Son of God ( Heb. 1:6 ), and the hierarchy of evil powers are subject unto Him. But most wonderful of all is the language used by the Apostle concerning the redeemed sinner. The Father of Glory, having manifested His surpassing might in raising from the dead the Prince of Life, "Whom...they killed, hanging Him on a tree" ( Acts 10:39 ), called those whom He thus redeemed to "share the life of Christ" ( Eph. 2:5-6 C.H.) and "raised us with Him from the dead, and enthroned us with Him in the heavenly realms." ( Eph. 2:5 Weymouth; top)
How truly we need the eyes of the "understanding being filled with light" ( Eph. 1:18; top ) - the light from heaven - to apprehend, and to appropriate, this marvelous revelation of the grace of God to fallen sinners.
We have seen that the Cross is the way into this heavenly sphere, and if the Holy Spirit reveals to us that when we are planted into the death of Christ, we are loosed from the claims of sin, of the flesh, and of the devil, He will as certainly impart to us the life of the Risen Lord, and lift us in real experience into our place in Him, seated with Him in the heavens, "far above all principalities and powers" ( Eph. 1:21 ), for the Apostle writes to the Romans that if we have become partakers of a vital union - that is, shared the reality of His death - "so shall we also share His resurrection." ( Rom. 6:5 , Conybeare's note) If we consent to the sharing of His death, and yield to the Spirit for vital union with it, the sharing of His life assuredly follows, for "just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father," so He purposes that we as surely may know "newness of life." ( Rom. 6:4; top ) The original Greek means an entirely new life essence - and essential inward life - the resurrection life of Christ, the very same supernatural life which energized the Lord when He arose, and emerged from the tomb!
It is important at this point to emphasize that when we take by faith our position as "dead indeed unto sin," and reckon ourselves "alive unto God," ( Rom. 6:11; top ), we may realize our union with the Glorified Lord, and our place of victory in Him, seated far above the powers of darkness; but experimentally it is only as we are led on to know the meaning of the Cross in its deeper aspects, that we emerge fully into the life in Him, and abide continuously in the heavenly sphere. This may be understood if we liken the Cross to a knife which the Holy Spirit uses to sever from us all things not of God, as the believer stands on the basis of the Cross day by day. The Holy Spirit then works unceasingly, and as the detaching and severing is done, the inner spirit rises more and more into essential union with Him, Who was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father.
The believer may be said to be an overcomer at every stage of his progress from death into life, but the ascension life of "power over all the power of the enemy" ( Lk. 10:19 ), is only know when the Holy Spirit has triumphed at every point, and brought the soul into entire conformity to the death of Christ - a conformity which is nevertheless to be maintained and deepened every moment as the condition of continued power and victory. It is now that the believer understands the reality of the life in union with Christ, and how the Church, brought into her place in the heavenlies, is a testimony to the "Principalities and Powers in the heavens," of the manifold wisdom of God in His divine plan for the redemption of the fallen sons of men. ( Eph. 3:10; top )
We now see the overcomer in the place of victory, "enthroned with Christ in the heavens" ( Eph. 2:6 ), but conflict is not ended, it is only changed in character and in place, and is quite distinct from the conflict described in Galatians 5. There is a conflict between the indwelling Spirit and the "flesh," when the believer had to stand steadfastly on the basis of Rom. 6:11 (top), and put his will on God's side, so that the Cross should triumph at every point, and the Holy Spirit obtain full control. But now the Apostle writes to those who are united to Christ in the heavenly sphere, and rings out
A Call to arms.
"Let your heaven be strengthened in the Lord, in the conquering power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the wiles of the devil. For the adversaries with whom we wrestled are not flesh and blood, but they are the Principalities, the Powers, and the Sovereigns of this present darkness, the spirits of evil in the heavens." ( Eph. 6:10-12 C. H.; top)
Now it is a conflict with direct spiritual forces - a warfare with "spirits of evil," and aerial dignitaries possessed of supernatural power. The conflict, too, appears to be mainly defensive! A battle to "stand firm" (v. 11 ) against the onslaughts of the hosts of hell. The whole armour of God is needed for this battle with the aerial foes, for all the "wiles of the devil" (v. 11 ), the "fiery darts of the evil one" (v. 16 ), and the assaults of the spiritual hosts of wickedness (v. 12; top ), will be directed against the believer to draw him down from his place in Christ back to the sphere of earth.
And wherefore? Ah, there are many reasons not far to seek.
1) Every believer who is brought into experimental deliverance through the Cross, and made to sit with Christ far above the hosts of darkness, draws the whole body of Christ heavenward. The converse is also terribly true, for every victory of Satan over the believer sends defeat through the whole Church of God. ( 1 Cor. 12:26; top )
2) The soul hidden with Christ in God has "authority over all the power of the enemy" ( Lk. 10:19 ), for he shares in the victory of Christ. In Him he has power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and power to deliver and loose others from the bands of the evil one. ( Mt. 18:18; top )
3) The soul united to the Risen Lord and dwelling in Him, abides in Him by living in the searchlight of God - light as God is in the light - therefore it quickly discerns, and exposes the "works of darkness" ( Eph. 5:11 ), as Peter unveiled the devil at work in Ananias in Pentecostal days. ( Acts 5:3; top )
There are many other reasons, but these three suffice to show why all the "wiles" are planned to draw the overcomer out of his hiding place in the All-conquering Lord, back on to earthly ground, and the "fiery darts" are flung in the hope of finding a place where they will fasten. Hence the necessity for putting on the whole armour of God, so that the overcomer may "stand firm" in his place of safety, and be able in special onslaughts of the hosts of darkness - which the Apostle calls the evil day - to "overthrow them all," and stand unshaken. ( Eph. 6:13; top )
As to the forces engaged in the battle against even one soul entrenched in Christ, the whole army of hell - the Prince of the aerial host, Principalities, Powers and spirits of evil - are of one mind in their fiendish aim of drawing the believer out of his hiding place in the ascended Lord. It is vitally important that we do not under-estimate the foe. From our place "in the Lord" we may calmly look at all that is against us, so that we may fully grasp the purpose of the Adversary, and see what he has to gain by victory. The overcomer also needs to understand the tremendous consequences to the hosts of evil if he abides in victory, for all the power of the Omnipotent God is behind, and working through the one united to Christ, and encased within the whole armour of God. "Authority...over all the power of the enemy" ( Lk. 10:19 ) is then actually true, for the Victor of Calvary identifies Himself with His possessed one, and through him will manifest the "conquering power of His might" ( Eph. 6:10; top ) over all the forces of hell.
It is necessary to understand also the spiritual character of the conflict, so that we cease to see "flesh and blood" (v. 12 ) as adversaries! Ofttimes the battle in the "evil day" (v. 13; top ) of special attack is a wrestling of spirit with spirit, and for the time being it is impossible to the mind, or consciousness of the overcomer, to distinguish what is of his own spirit, or the dark spirits of evil.
At other times the spiritual foe hides himself behind "flesh and blood," as he did behind Peter, when he prayed the Master to admit self-pity, and shun the Cross ( Mt. 16:22 ); but the soul walking in the light, and encased in the armour of light, will be given increasingly clear vision to detect the workings of the Adversary behind all the covers he uses, and with "senses exercised to discern" ( Heb. 5:14; top ) be able to stand firm against his wiles, and by the shield of faith quench all the fiery darts, from whichever quarter they come.
The Apostle Paul was a trained warrior in the conflict with the forces of hell, and from his letters we may see how real the foe and the battle were to him, and learn much how to defeat the tactics of the evil one. "We are not ignorant of his devices," wrote the Apostle ( 2 Cor. 2:11 ), and the believer must not be ignorant if he is to abide in the place of victory, for in the heavenlies as well as on the earth-sphere, the Adversary works through ignorance. It is true spiritually as well as in the natural world. "In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird!" ( Prov. 1:17 ) "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" ( Jn. 8:32; top ) might also be written, "and the truth shall keep you free," for to the soul walking with God the same instant that the wiles of the devil are recognized, that same moment they are broken, providing the overcomer walks in integrity before God, desiring only His glory, and His will to be done. This brings us to the "armour" which is a spiritual one for protection from a spiritual foe.
The armour of light.
"Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light...put on the Lord Jesus Christ." ( Rom. 13:12 , 14; top )
In the ringing call to arms which the Apostle concludes his letter to the Ephesians, he cries, "Put on the whole armour of God," and then repeats "take up with you to the battle the whole armour of God." ( Eph. 6:11 , 13 C.H.) All the language he uses speaks of decision, and definite action! The will of the believer is always taken into account. The rebellious will which has fought so keenly against God, when surrendered and conquered by Him, is not to be crushed and broken, but re-energized by Divine power, and turned against the Adversary. "Cast off the works of darkness," the Apostle cries! ( Rom. 13:12 ) Christ has conquered the Prince of darkness, and won liberty for the captives under his control. Come, arise O captive, and take your liberty! "Cast off" - "cast off" the works of darkness, and behind your will you shall find the co-working of the Divine Spirit casting off your chains. "Put on the armour of light!" "Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ." ( Rom. 13:14 C.H.) The "armour" is the Christ Himself Who emerged from the tomb Conqueror over death and hell. "Whosoever among you have been baptized into Christ, have clothed yourself with Christ," writes the Apostle to the Galatians. ( Gal. 3:27 C.H.) This links the Cross and the armour together, for baptized into Christ means in spiritual significance being baptized into His death. The "clothing with Christ" cannot be meant to cover what is contrary to Christ, or it would be making the believer like the Pharisees, who "outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of...all uncleanness." ( Mt. 23:27-28; top ) But the Cross is again the key. The believer submerged into death, so that all which is contrary to Christ is kept continually crucified, is "clothed" as well as indwelt by the Risen Lord. Cast off darkness! Put on Christ as Light! Be planted into Christ on the Cross, and become clothed with Christ - the Armour of Light - are only two aspects of the same wondrous provision of God for the equipping of the redeemed.
In his letter to the Ephesians, the old warrior Paul gives a fuller description of the armour, so that the believer may understand the various sections of it, and take heed that no part is missing, otherwise the alert enemy will obtain a footing, and win a victory. "Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness," cries the Apostle. "Shod as ready messengers of the glad tidings of peace...take up to cover you the shield of faith...take likewise the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God." ( Eph. 6:14-17 ) How vividly these few details of the armour depict the conditions for victory! The belt (v. 14; top ) holds the armour in place bound tightly to the figure, and the "girding" expresses readiness for work or conflict as the case may be. We have already seen how the Truth makes free, because Christ is Truth, and the devil is a liar and a deceiver. The Lord can only be an armour whilst we walk in truth; truth first and foremost in everything; in the inward parts; in an attitude to God over sin; in our dealing with our fellowmen. No prevarication can be tolerated, no willful giving of wrong impressions, no exaggeration of facts, no colouring of actions. Always, everywhere, in everything, at any cost, or sacrifice, facing the truth as it concerns ourselves in the eyes of others and of God, and looking to God with keen desire for the light of His truth to be streaming upon us within and without day after day. In brief, truth is light, and untruth in any degree is darkness. The Prince of darkness and of untruth is conquered by the soul abiding in the light of truth. Let us clearly understand then, that victory depends on being girt with the belt of truth, and be aware that the devil's wiles will ceaselessly be planned to entangle us in some shade of untruth, in our attitude toward God, or our intercourse with others.
The "breastplate of righteousness" (v. 14 ) is the next condition of victory, and this may be briefly said to be a "conscience without offense toward God and men" ( Acts 24:16 ), for it is only when our heart condemns us not that we have boldness toward God. The Adversary knows this, and so is the "accuser of the brethren" ( Rev. 12:10 ) seeking to bring the believer into condemnation before God. Decision is necessary here, and a knowledge of the power of the Blood of the Lamb. Let the overcomer remember that the Lord Christ is a Faithful Witness ( Rev. 1:5; top ), and will faithfully tell His possessed ones the moment they are out of accord with His will. He is always definite in His dealings with His children, and the soul in fellowship with Him quickly knows when He speaks with the still small voice of conscience, then it must at once obey, and claim the cleansing of the precious Blood. The condemnation of the evil one is usually vague, and should be met by the believer claiming the constant cleansing of the Blood; whilst doubtful things must be dealt with by a committal to the Lord, and trust that He will remove what comes from the accuser, and deepen and renew all that comes from Himself. The breastplate of righteousness will then be kept upon the heart to protect it from the foe.
The feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, or "shod as ready messengers of the glad tidings" (v. 15 ), comes next in the armour for conflict with the foe. The feet represent the walk on earth, and it shows how much the "word of testimony" ( Rev. 12:11; top ) has to do with the life of victory. Following too, the belt of truth, and the breastplate of righteousness, we see that a life of truth and fellowship with God is bound to result in testimony. "Shod as ready messengers" of the Gospel! The one who dwells with Christ in the heavenlies, walks on earth for the one and only purpose, of being a ready messenger for Him, and for this part of the armour to be overlooked will mean defeat before the foe. The whole armour is necessary for victory, and all parts of it make up the whole. The soul who is an overcomer, is therefore a messenger, and cannot be an overcomer without obedience here.
Hastening hither and thither on the earth, bearing the messages of the Lord, the armour-covered messenger now needs the "shield of faith" to "quench all the fiery darts of the Evil One" (v. 16 ); for he is moving in the realm of the Adversary carrying messages to the captives in his power. How we can almost see the dark Prince, or his minions, following him, and launching the "fiery darts," but he is covered by the shield of faith in the keeping of a faithful God. The darts tipped with fire from hell fall upon the believing one, and they are quenched, but let a fiery dart fall, and find the overcoming questioning the keeping of God, then how quickly the sting is felt! Now the "helmet of salvation" (v. 17; top ) is necessary, for the "darts" are generally directed against the head - or the thoughts. An evil suggestion is shot in as an arrow to the mind, but the believer must quickly refuse it, and claim "salvation," which is, in other words, the cleansing of the blood, which was shed at Calvary. If the thought is not at once rejected, and cleansed, it lies as a poisoned dart, unheeded at the time, later on to produce sad results.
How clearly the armour-covered overcomer now stands out to our gaze in this description of the Apostle's. See him girded with truth! The Adversary fails to get him entangled here. His heart is in peace with no condemnation, for he knows nothing against himself, and his conscience is without offense toward God and men, with the blood of Jesus cleansing continually from all sin. See him with alacrity and joy giving the message of the glad-tidings as he walks the earth, covered and protected by the shield of faith in the keeping power of God, Who covers him with the whole armour of light. See the Prince of darkness following him; note the hosts of wicked spirits watching him! See! Something happens in his path - he is injured, insulted or ignored. Now is the Adversary's time! A "fiery dart" is winged - the thought flashes into the mind, "How unfair; how unjust; it is necessary you speak - you must defend, yea, for righteousness' sake!" No, O warrior, "take the helmet of salvation." Quickly, quickly reject the thought, and cry "The blood of the Lamb cleanses" - see it is gone - it is victory.
But supposing the fiery dart is unheeded. At the moment it is not noticed, but it is there in the mind! It is a spark from hell. The enemy is content to let it lie. He has gained a place from which he can act later on. Days pass, and the believer meets the one who injured him. A coldness comes over him - circumstances arise - before he is aware he finds himself in friction and resentment. Ah, the fiery dart has done its work - the breastplate of righteousness is gone - defeat - defeat - defeat! Sorrow, confession, shame and restoration follow, but, oh, the loss of time! The victory to the Adversary! The dishonour to the Lord! Yes, the helmet of salvation is needed for the protection of the thoughts, and the retaining of the heart in peace.
Lastly in the hand must be a "sword"! (v. 17 ) The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. The Christ-encased Christian must never parley with the foe, but only say "It is written" so and so, or "God has said" this or that, and the sword must be gripped, and the whole armour retained by "all prayer and supplication, praying at all times in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." (v. 18; top ) Never for one moment in any circumstances, or in any place, may the soul dare cease to pray, for he must be "At all seasons in the Spirit...watching!" and not "watching" simply for his own safety, but in "supplication for all the saints," showing so clearly that in the life in the heavenlies, 1) the believer is not only joined to the Lord, but joined to all other members of Christ united to Him; and that 2) the main work of the armour-covered warrior is the "prayer-battle," where he stands in the place of victory for the whole Church of Christ. In brief his victory is bound up with the victory of others; he cannot stand alone.
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