It has been pointed out more than once in this study that the authority of which we are speaking is the portion of every believer. It is not a special gift imparted in answer to prayer, but the inherent right of the child of God because of his elevation with Christ to the right hand of the Father. He has become, through the rich mercy of God, an occupant of the Throne of the Lord, with all that it implies of privilege and responsibility.
This elevation took place potentially at the resurrection of the Lord and because of the believer's inclusion in Him The elevation is wholly of the wisdom and grace of the Father. We do not "climb the heavenly steeps" by any act of faith or devotion on our part. It is ours simply to recognize the fact of this position, and to take our place in humble acceptance, giving all the glory and honor to God.
Let us recall four words to which mention has been previously made. They are "to usward who believe." In the former reference, we emphasized the first two, pointing out that all the demonstration of the omnipotence of God in Christ pointed manward. We shall now lay stress upon the latter two: "to usward who believe." It is not enough that the Divine Fulness outpours unstinted supplies; there must be a receptive heart and attitude on our part. A bottle may be submerged in the waters of a fountain. 'But, if the cork is unremoved, the holder may wait indefinitely, and at last carry it away empty. In accord with this simile, multitudes of truly spiritual believers are, as it were, immersed in the omnipotence of God; it presses them on every side. There is a longing for its experience, and a belief that it should be theirs, and a readiness to receive, these things being the witness of their spirits to the truth which the Holy Ghost has unfolded in the Word. Yet, because their minds have been "holden" as they have read the Word, the simplicity and the glory of this truth have not dawned upon them. Do we not need, indeed, continually to pray with deep heart-humility that "the eyes of our mind may be enlightened"?
"To usward who believe." Few comprehend the primary thought of "belief." It has a twofold meaning, fraught with deep significance. In it are combined two old AngloSaxon words: "be," to live or exist; and "lifan," which conveys the thought of accordance. Thus to believe means literally "to live in accordance with accustomed to consider "belief" as simply mental acquiescence with some particular truth. But its root leads us on to action; that which the mind accepts, the will must obey. We do not truly believe, therefore, unless our conviction is manifested in our life. Thus understood, "belief" stands on a par with its great synonym "faith," which, in its deeper sense, means not only to have trust in a person but to manifest that trust by practical committal.
Do we believe that God "hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus"? If we do, our reaction to it will be a fervent: "Lord, I accept Thy gracious word. I believe that Thou hast thus wrought for me. In humble faith I do now take my seat in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus at Thy right hand. Teach me how to fulfil this sacred ministry, how to exercise the authority which Thou hast entrusted to me. Train me day by day that I may attain to the full stature of the perfect man in Christ, so that in me Thy purpose of the ages may be fulfilled. Amen."
If we are walking in the spirit, our normal life is in the heavenlies. To secure the consciousness of this, there must be the daily acceptance of the fact. Let us, morning by morning, as one of our first acts of worship, take our seat with Christ (as suggested in the previous paragraph) and return thanks to God for all that it implies. Let us often remind ourselves that we are seated far above all the powers of the air, and that they are in subjection to us. As our faith learns to use the Name and the Authority of Jesus, we shall find the spiritual forces yielding obedience in ways that will surprise us. As we continue to abide closely in Him our prayers for the advancement of the Kingdom will become less and less the uttering of petitions, and will increasingly manifest the exercise of a spiritual authority that recognizes no national boundaries, but fearlessly binds the forces of darkness in any part of the world.
While belief thus introduces us to our place of throne-power, only humility will ensure our retaining it. As we compare the abounding grace of God, and our own utter unworthiness, the question arises, Should we need such a warning? Praise God, it becomes less necessary as the soul grows in grace, and the likeness of the Son increases in us. But we know little of the plague of our own hearts, if we think the danger is ever over. The forces against whom we contend the principalities and powers, the world-rulers of this darkness, the hosts of wicked spirits in the heavenlies, know us far better than we know ourselves. As we attack them, and authority is nought but ". a long-drawn-out warfare against them, their returnstroke is often swift and crushing. With a strategy gained in long experience in 'k spiritual battles, they know that the offensive is their best mode of defense. One of their tested weapons is spiritual pride, and too often it proves effective.
Victory over the powers of the air, from their dread prince downwards, is a demonstrated possibility. But its attainment is alone through the employment of Divine aid. Now, since Eden, man has forgotten that God is essential; through the intervening ages he has constantly sought to- show himself self-sufficient. Christ was the first of all our race that ever cast Himself fully upon God. "He trusted,' in God, let him deliver him," was the sneer of the enemy at Calvary. 'But at Calvary, the One who had thus fully trusted, could not be delivered. He must go down to death, for the sin question of the world was involved, and the shedding of His precious blood was necessary for atonement. So, "He was crucified through weakness" (2 Corinthians 13: 4). When this was accomplished, nothing more stood in the way. God raised Him from the dead, stripped His foes of their authority, and set Him on high over them.
With believers, the consuming desire to be independent is something ' which even the regenerate heart does not fully overcome. Often, just after some signal victory has been gained, there comes the subtle whisper of the enemy, and the overcomer is swiftly shorn of strength through feeling that he is strong.
With profound humility, there may go, however, the greatest boldness in the Name. True boldness is faith in full manifestation. When God has spoken, to hold back is not humility but unbelief. In the exercise of authority, there is needed a Divine courage that fear's nothing but God, and reaches out strong hands to bind and to restrain all that is contrary to Him. But with this courage, there must be a continual and close abiding in God, a spirit that is alert to every urge and check from Him, and a mind that is steeped in the Word of God.
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