DAILY DISCIPLINE #196
By Colleen Donahue
Watchman Nee who taught and preached in China served God faithfully until his death in 1972. His followers preserved his teachings through their notes so that today we can benefit from the wisdom God gave his servant. This study is derived from the truths that Brother Nee gave to his followers from the book of Ephesians. He talked about our life with Christ in three words – the same three words that the Apostle Paul spoke of: sit, walk, and stand.
In the first study, we saw that Christianity does not begin with walking, but with sitting down. We can start with sitting down with Christ in the heavenly places, because as our final sacrifice, Jesus has done everything there is to do concerning our salvation and the work that we are assigned here on earth. We don’t start our Christian walk by doing anything. We start with recognizing what has already been DONE in Jesus.
Now in this study we continue with the next phase of our life with Christ. We have to WALK with Him.
SIT, WALK, STAND – Our Life With Christ in Three Words - Part 2
WALKING – OUR BEHAVIOR
- If the Christian life starts by sitting down with Christ in the heavenlies, it continues by walking here on earth as the practical outworking of our rest in Christ. Therefore, Paul in his letter to the Ephesians has two things to say to us about walking. Here is the first thing. Write down each point he makes about walking.
Ephesians 4:1-2, 17-18, 23-24, 28-29 / 5:2, 8-10
- The word “walk” used in these verses literally means “to walk around”. It’s used figuratively by Paul to say that we need to order our behavior. For the real test of our conduct is in our relations with others. Unless we bring “the heavenlies” into our earthly homes and businesses it is all without meaning. As you read these words from Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, how are you left feeling?
If you’re like most of us you’re left with the feeling that it’s impossible.
- What can be our answer to these impossible standards? Paul tells us the secret.
Ephesians 3:20 / Colossians 1:29
- This brings us right back to where we started. The Christian life begins by sitting down. And that is our secret – we start by resting in what Christ has already done and this gives us the power to walk. We sit forever with Christ so that we can walk continually before men.
Think of yourself as crippled in a motorized wheelchair. You go but you also sit. My walking will not be based on my own efforts but on my inward rest in Christ and then His mighty power working within me. This is the reason that Paul prays this for the Ephesians he was writing to:
Christ wants to make our hearts his home and then to continue HIS life using OUR life. God is working in us so that we can walk it out here on earth. Let me repeat – Christ is continuing HIS life using OUR life!
- God has prepared works in advance that we are to do. They are different for you than they are for me.
And we will be able to do them because He is always working within us to have all the strength and power that we’ll need.
The only thing left for us to do is to be willing that God would have his way in us.
- God has given us the Spirit of His Son to be the engine by which we walk.
Ephesians 3:16, 19
Not only does God put us “in Christ” but what does Jesus become for us?
1 Corinthians 1:30
This means that whatever it is that we lack, Jesus, through His Holy Spirit within us, will become that for us. These words: “…..Christ Jesus, who has become for us…..” are some of the sweetest in scripture. God does not give us patience, love, or self-control that we are lacking. He gives us Christ and then we have it all. With our cooperation, Jesus will work within us to produce the patience (or fill in the blank) that we don’t have naturally.
RIGHT MOTIVES BUT WRONG APPROACH
- The Christian life is meant to be spontaneous. It’s not about trying but all about trusting. Here is an example all of us can relate to. Perhaps you know a difficult person whom you are always getting into difficulties with. He/she often says or does things that immediately arouse resentment or anger in you. You pray earnestly that God would give you patience and love for them. Then, summoning all your will-power you set out to display the patience and love for them that you lack. But before you know it, their response to you brings back the usual reaction of resentment. The best you seem to be able to muster for that person is to be polite to them. We aren’t wrong to want patience and love for this difficult person. But we are wrong in praying that God would give us patience or love as though they were separate commodities apart from Christ.
God has given us His Son and there is nothing more to receive outside of Him. The Holy Spirit has been sent to produce what is of Christ in us – not anything apart from Him.
Many of us are “Christian actors” and live a life full of pretense. We adopt spiritual attitudes, words, and actions as we try and imitate Jesus and play the role of a Christian. We try hard to be a good Jesus and we do it with utmost sincerity. But all our trying is the big clue that we are wrong.
Jesus is the power that works within us to spontaneously live out toward that difficult person the patience and love that is needed. He does this spontaneously without your even being conscious of it.
Reread Ephesians 3:17-20
Your prayer might now go like this: “Lord it is clear to me that I cannot love _______. But I know that the life of your Son in me cannot help but to love _______. Therefore, I count on your life to love _____ through me.”
Then, low and behold, the next time you encounter this person, you converse freely and naturally. You leave in amazement that you weren’t anxious in their presence at all. You didn’t erupt in irritation or anger. That’s the spontaneous life of Jesus flowing from within us.
“Our life is the life of Christ, mediated in us by the indwelling Holy Spirit Himself, and the law of that life is spontaneous.” (Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee, p. 28)
God does not demand of us anything that He cannot perform with His Son’s life in us. We must simply throw ourselves back onto Jesus to do the performing.
- Therefore when some difficult circumstance confronts us, we don’t need to grab from the world’s wisdom to know what to do. We have Christ indwelling us and He is made unto us wisdom from God.
Reread 1 Corinthians 1:30
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2) will continually communicate to us His standards of right and wrong as well as the attitude we’ll need to meet it.
The principle of the Cross is that our standard is no longer our old carnal self but the new man – Jesus Christ dwelling within us by His Spirit. If God has commanded something, we are to throw ourselves back on Him for the means to be able to do it.
WALKING – OUR PROGRESS
- If the first part of our walking has to do with our behavior, the second point Paul makes in Ephesians concerns our progress. For when we walk, we move forward towards a goal. What association does Paul make in these verses?
- Paul makes an association between the use of time and that of wisdom and foolishness. All Christians will be saved to the uttermost. Why can we be confident of that?
- So in this manner of walking as followers of Christ – all of us will reach the goal. But some will reach it quicker and become “the first fruits for God and the lamb.”
Revelation 14:1-5 (especially vs 4)
We have there in Revelation the idea of “first fruits” and then “the harvest”. In harvesting a fruit such as oranges, it’s those who appear first on the tree that are carefully picked and fetch the best price at the market. God is especially looking for His “first fruits”. He is looking for those committed souls that will see the urgency of walking according to God’s priorities rather than their own.
- In some way all of us will reach “ripeness”, but some will do so quicker – not because they have done better ---but because they have done well at an earlier time. This same idea comes forth in this parable told by Jesus.
All are virgins in this parable (representing true children of God), but some are wise and some foolish. When the Lord says, “I know you not”, He is not speaking of their salvation. If you are lost you can’t come to the door of Heaven and just knock. No, Jesus seems to be making a point that there is some privileged service in the future that we will miss because we are unprepared.
- Here is the difference with these virgins. The wise had a store of oil in hand when it was needed. The foolish had to go out to get the oil and this delay in time caused them to miss being able to meet the need in the moment. In scripture, oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. All these virgins (Christians) had oil or the life of Christ within them. But all of them were not “filled with the Spirit”. Therefore, when the need came, they could not meet it. This explains what Paul exhorts us to do next.
We are to be filled with all the fullness of God here and now to complete our work on earth and to be ready for our role in eternity. The Greek word used for “filled” in Ephesians 5:18 means to allow ourselves to be completely filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. It is a state that we are to be in all the time. If we maintain this fullness, we will be ready for every situation the Lord requires from us. So, if you are one of the wise virgins, you will seek this fullness sooner. If you are foolish, you’ll put it off until later. Wisdom is connected with time and those who are wise redeem the time.
- We see this in the Apostle Paul himself. Once he “saw” Jesus, the Messiah, he sat down. He went from one who lived in hopes of the Messiah to a man now resting in his salvation. But this work of grace put into Paul a burning passion to share Jesus with the world. He did more then walk – he ran.
1 Corinthians 9:26-27
- Paul now had only God’s goal in front of him and he went for it with all his heart.
I daresay that Paul is one of Christ’s “first-fruits”. Once on the right path he redeemed the time he was given for the Savior and became wise. We are privileged to still be reading his wisdom today.
- The Lord needs us to be his instruments today – always ready for his use. Why?
If we understand the will of our Lord, we’ll be able to run like Paul towards the goal.
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