WITHSTANDING THE DEVIL

Scripture Reading: James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8-9; 2 Cor. 2:11

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  (James 4:7)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.  (2 Corinthians 2:11)

The devil is known also as Satan (Rev. 12:9- “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”). He was first a cherubim, created by God (Ezek. 28:12-14 – “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.”) and he was an archangel (Rev. 12:7 – “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,”; Matt. 25:41 – “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”). Later, he rebelled against God by uplifting himself to be equal to God. Because of this, God judged him (Isa. 14:12-15 – “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” [In versions after the KJV, especially the NIV the word Lucifer is removed and replaced with “Morning Star” which is a name for Jesus.]; Ezek. 28:15-19 – “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.”) and he became Satan, the adversary of God. In the original text the word Satan means “an opposer, an adversary.” The devil opposes everything that God does. In addition, he always sets himself against God’s children.

We want to look at the way the devil attacks God’s children and how they withstand him.

I. SATAN’S WORK

We will look at Satan’s work in four aspects.

A. Satan’s Work in the Human Mind

Second Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” This shows us that Satan uses every high thing as a stronghold to surround man’s thought. In order for the Lord to gain us, He must first overthrow the strongholds of Satan. He must do this before He can charge into man’s thought and take it captive.

1. Satan’s Reasonings and Temptations

What are reasonings? This word in Greek can be translated “imagination” or “thought.” Satan often surrounds us with many imaginations. Men are foolish; they think that these thoughts are their own. Actually, they are the strongholds of Satan, and they prevent the mind from submitting to Christ. Often Satan injects a kind of imagination into our mind. If we think this imagination is from ourselves, we fall into his snare. Often thoughts develop which have no basis in fact; they are merely imaginations. Many so-called sins are imaginary in nature; they are not real. Many of the so-called problems among the brothers and sisters come from our imagination; they have no factual basis. Often Satan injects a wild thought into our mind, and we are completely oblivious to his work. When he injects a sudden thought into our mind and we accept it, we are accepting his work. If we reject this thought, we reject his work. Many thoughts are not our own; they are actually concocted by Satan. We must learn to reject these thoughts from Satan.

Most of Satan’s temptations come through the mind. Satan realizes that God’s children will rise up and withstand him vehemently if he attacks openly. This is the reason he tempts us by sneaking in stealthily and planting a thought in our mind unconsciously. Once the thought gets into us, we begin to think about it. If the more we dwell on a thought the more we feel justified and right, we have fallen into his snare. The thought that we have accepted is Satan’s temptation. If we reject Satan’s attacks in our mind, we will shut off the most vulnerable entrance of his temptations.

Many problems among God’s children are problems in the mind; they are not real problems. Sometimes when you see a brother or a sister, you may feel that he or she has a problem with you or that there is a distance between you. This may result in a barrier between you. Actually, there is nothing between you. The so-called problem is merely Satan’s attack in your mind or the mind of your brother or sister. Such problems are unnecessary problems. God’s children must reject sudden thoughts and sudden feelings. They must learn never to give in to Satan.

Here, we need to issue a warning. We should not be overly concerned about thoughts from Satan. There are people who go to one extreme of paying no attention at all to Satan’s thoughts. There are also people who go to the other extreme of paying too much attention to thoughts from Satan. A person can easily be cheated if he is not alert to thoughts from Satan. At the same time, a person can lose his mental sanity if he is obsessed about thoughts from Satan. If a person pays too much attention to Satan’s temptations, his mind will become confused, and he will easily become a prey to Satan’s snares. As soon as a person’s eyes are not focused on the Lord, he will find himself in trouble. On the one hand, we need to see that Satan does attack our mind. On the other hand, we need to realize that as soon as we reject his attacks, that is the end of them. If a person has to reject Satan day and night, something is wrong with his mind; he is heading down the wrong road. On the one hand, we must be familiar with his wiles; if we are ignorant of them we will be cheated. On the other hand, we cannot be overly concerned because that will also lead us into deception. As soon as our eyes are set on him, he has gained what he wants. This distraction will render us useless, and we will become obsessed with his thoughts day and night. Any brother or sister who is overly concerned with such thoughts has already been deceived. We must learn to maintain a proper balance. An excessive concern is wrong. If a person’s mind is constantly worried about thoughts from Satan, he is in reality giving ground to Satan to enter into him. We must never go to the extreme.

2. How to Reject Thoughts from Satan

How do we reject thoughts from Satan? It is easy to reject these thoughts. God has given us our mind; it is ours, not Satan’s. We are the only ones who have the right to use our mind; Satan has no authority over our mind. All we need to do is not allow him to think. Satan can only usurp our mind with deception. He will give us a thought, and we may think that this thought is ours. Actually, it is from Satan. As soon as we recognize that it is not ours, we have overcome.

Satan always tempts and attacks a person by stealthy, surreptitious, and covert ways. He does not shout loudly, “Here I come!” Instead, he deceives with lies and falsehood. He does not let us know that he is the one who is doing the work. Once we are aware of an attack from Satan and expose him and his disguise, it will be easy to withstand him. The Lord Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32). The truth is the fact. We will be set free once we know the fact. The power of Satan is in his lies; once his lies fail, his power is gone. Therefore, as soon as we realize that Satan is attacking us and that this is the fact, we are freed. Some children of God say with their mouth that Satan is the instigator behind everything, but their spirit has no assurance that those things are actually from Satan. Although they say that they are withstanding Satan, they do not know the reality of Satan’s work. As a result, they cannot withstand him. However, as soon as they identify Satan’s work, they can withstand him, and as soon as they withstand him, he flees.

Satan attacks our mind mainly through deception. He makes us think that his thoughts are ours when in reality they are from him. Once we expose his lies, we will reject the thought from him. To withstand means to refuse. When Satan gives us a thought, we should say, “I do not want it.” This is what it means to withstand. When he injects one thought into us, we should say, “I do not take this.” When he injects another thought into us, we should repeat, “I do not accept this.” If we do this, he will not be able to do anything with us. One servant of God in the Middle Ages said, “You cannot stop birds from flying over your head, but you can at least stop them from nesting in your hair.” This is a good word. We cannot stop Satan from tempting us. However, we can stop him from nesting, from gaining a beachhead in us. This power is ours. If we ignore the thoughts that enter our mind, these thoughts will stop.

On the positive side, we need to exercise our mind. Many people have lazy minds. This makes it easy for Satan’s thoughts to lodge in them. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” We can take account of spiritual matters. We need to exercise our mind concerning spiritual matters. If a person always sets his mind on sinful things, Satan can easily inject his thoughts into him, because his thoughts and Satan’s thoughts are not much different. But if we always set our mind on spiritual things, Satan will not be able to inject his thoughts into us easily. Satan is able to inject his thoughts into many people because they are passive, because they have too much spare time, or because their thoughts are unclean in the first place.

There is another point that deserves attention: Our mind must not be attracted to satanic thoughts. There are many people whose minds are attracted to satanic thoughts. They have no interest in the wonderful, spiritual experiences of other brothers. Yet they become very interested when it comes to gossip. Since they love Satan’s work, they cannot reject satanic thoughts. We need to hate Satan’s work in order to reject his thoughts. All filthy thoughts that damage one’s fellowship with the Lord and love for the Lord are from Satan. These thoughts will not come to us if we are not attracted to them in the first place. But if we incline our heart toward these things, they will come to us easily. Therefore, we must learn to reject everything that comes from Satan.

We must pay special attention to rejecting all filthy thoughts. Satan always places filthy thoughts in man to induce man to sin. The starting point is one filthy thought. If we allow it to continue, it will bear the fruit of sin. Therefore, we must refuse any thought that comes from Satan.

However, there is a great problem: What should we do if the thought refuses to leave after we have rejected it? We need to realize that we only need to withstand unwanted thoughts once. Withstanding is a one-time act; we should never withstand twice. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” This verse says to withstand the devil and the devil will flee. We must believe that when we withstand the devil, he will flee. It is wrong to continue withstanding for fear that the devil is still around. Whose words do we believe? The Bible says, “Resist…he will flee…” If there is a voice within that suggests that he has not fled, whose voice is it? It is Satan’s voice! Many people choose to believe Satan’s words. Therefore, they lose. We must declare after we have withstood him, “I have already withstood the devil. He is gone from me.” The feeling that he is still lurking around is a lie; it is not real, and it is not from the Lord. He must run. He has no ground to stay. We must be clear that it is right to withstand once, but wrong to withstand a second time. The first withstanding glorifies God’s name. The second withstanding questions God’s Word.

Many people make the mistake of checking with their feelings after they have withstood the devil. They ask, “Is the devil gone?” Their feeling tells them that he is not gone, and they try to withstand him again. Once there is a second withstanding, be sure there will be a third, a fourth, even a hundredth, and a thousandth. In the end we will feel as if we are completely helpless in rejecting it. But if we ignore him completely after we have withstood his temptation once, we will experience victory. We must care for the fact of God’s Word and ignore our own feelings. The fact is that as soon as we withstand the devil, he flees. If we think that he has not fled after we have withstood him, we are being deceived by our feeling. If we believe this feeling, the devil will come back. We must learn to believe God’s glorious words. Once we have withstood him once, there is no need to withstand him a second time because the matter has been settled already.

These are the issues relating to Satan’s work in man’s mind. We must realize that Satan attacks man’s mind. We should reject any thought from Satan. At the same time, we should realize that once we reject his thoughts, the matter is finished. Furthermore, we must not be overly concerned with his attacks. Otherwise, our mind will be thrown into confusion, and we will be ensnared by the devil.

B. Satan’s Work on Man’s Body

The Bible shows us clearly that many physical diseases are the result of Satan’s attack.

The fever of Peter’s mother-in-law was an attack from Satan, and the Lord Jesus rebuked the fever (Luke 4:39 – “And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.“). Something must have a personality before the Lord can rebuke it. We cannot rebuke a cup or a chair; we can only rebuke something that has a personality. Fever is a symptom; the Lord could not rebuke the symptom. But Satan was behind the symptom with a personality of his own. Therefore, as soon as the Lord rebuked the fever, it was gone.

In Mark 9 we see a dumb and deaf child. In man’s eyes dumbness and deafness are sicknesses. But the Lord Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, saying, “Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.” (v. 25). The dumbness and deafness of the child were outward symptoms of his demon possession; they were not ordinary illnesses. We must realize that many sicknesses are medically defined diseases. But there are many sicknesses that are actually attacks from the devil. The Bible does not say that the Lord healed the sickness but that He rebuked it. The boils on Job’s body could not be healed by medicine; they were not medical illnesses; they were attacks from the devil. Unless one first deals with the devil, he has no way to deal with such sicknesses.

We admit that illnesses often occur through man’s negligence of natural laws. However, it can quite often be the result of Satan’s attack. In such a case one only has to ask the Lord to rebuke the sickness, and it will go away. This type of sickness often comes and goes away suddenly. It is an attack from Satan rather than an ordinary illness.

The complication lies in the fact that Satan does not want us to uncover and expose the illnesses he has inflicted. He always hides behind natural symptoms and makes us think that every sickness is the result of natural causes. If we allow him to hide behind these natural symptoms, our illness will not go away. Once we expose his work and rebuke him, the sickness will go away. One Christian had a very high fever and suffered greatly. He could not sleep and did not understand what was happening to him. Later, he was convinced that it was Satan’s work. He prayed to the Lord about it, and the next day the fever went away.

When a Christian becomes sick, he should first find the cause for his illness. He should ask: Is there any proper reason for this sickness? Is this out of natural causes or is it an attack from Satan? If there is not a proper reason for the illness and you discover that it is indeed an attack from Satan, you should withstand him and reject him.

The work of Satan on man’s body results not only in illness but also in death. Satan was a murderer from the beginning, in the same way that he was a liar from the beginning (John 8:44 – “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”). We should withstand not only Satan’s sickness but also his murdering. All thought of death is from Satan. Every notion of death as a means to escape from anything is from Satan. Satan made Job think of death. He did this not only to Job but also to every child of God. All notions of suicide, death wishes, and premature death are temptations from Satan. He tempts man to sin, and he also tempts man to die. Even thoughts of danger during one’s travels are Satan’s attacks. We must reject these thoughts whenever they come and not allow them to remain in us.

C. Satan’s Work on Man’s Conscience

Revelation 12:10 says, ” And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” This shows us that part of Satan’s work is to accuse us. This work is carried out in man’s conscience. As soon as a person is saved, his conscience is quickened, and he begins to know sin. Satan knows this. He knows that the Holy Spirit touches the conscience of God’s children concerning sin. He knows that He guides them into confession and prayer for forgiveness before God. Consequently, Satan steps in to counterfeit the Holy Spirit’s work. He accuses man in his conscience. Such an attack is found frequently among God’s children, and it causes much havoc.

Many children of God cannot differentiate between the Holy Spirit’s reproach and Satan’s accusation. As a result, they are hesitant to withstand anything. This gives Satan further ground to exercise his accusations. Many children of God could have been very useful in the hands of God, but their conscience has been weakened to the uttermost by Satan’s attack. They are bombarded constantly with the accusation and feeling that they have sinned in this and that matter. They are unable to stand up before God or before men. As a result, they become spiritually handicapped for the rest of their lives.

It is true that we should pay attention to the reproach of the Holy Spirit once we become Christians. However, we also need to withstand Satan’s accusation. We need to pay attention to the difference between the Holy Spirit’s reproach and Satan’s accusation. Many so-called reproaches are counterfeits; they are, in fact, Satan’s accusations.

1. The Difference between Satan’s Accusation and the Holy Spirit’s Reproach

What is the difference between Satan’s accusation and the Holy Spirit’s reproach? We need to distinguish between them.

First, all reproaches from the Holy Spirit begin with a small feeling from within. This inner feeling becomes stronger and stronger and convicts us of our mistakes. Satan’s accusation, however, is a continual nagging within. The reproach of the Holy Spirit grows stronger and stronger as time goes on; the accusation of Satan is the same from beginning to end. As time passes, the inner sense of the Spirit ascends by degree; but the accusation of Satan is a constant, muddled nagging that stays the same from beginning to end.

Second, each time we yield to the rebuke of the Spirit, we find the power of sin diminishing in us. Each rebuke of the Spirit diminishes the power of sin a little. Therefore, any rebuke from the Spirit weakens the power of sin; it results in a diminishing of sin. This is not the case with Satan’s accusation. Every time he accuses us, we find the power of sin to be just as great as before.

Third, the reproach of the Holy Spirit brings us to the Lord, whereas Satan’s accusation brings us disappointment. The more we are reproved by the Holy Spirit, the more we are strengthened within to deal with our problem before the Lord. But Satan’s accusation brings about despair and resignation. The reproach of the Holy Spirit causes us to come before the Lord and to rely on Him; Satan’s accusation causes us to turn back to ourselves and to be disappointed.

Fourth, if it is the reproach of the Holy Spirit, confession before the Lord will follow. This confession will result in at least peace, if not joy. There may or may not be joy, but there is always peace. Satan’s accusation, however, is totally different. There is no joy and no peace, even after one confesses his sins. This is like coming out of a major illness or going through a theatrical performance—nothing remains after the act is over. The reproach of the Holy Spirit has a result—peace, if not joy. However, Satan’s accusation leads us nowhere.

Fifth, the reproach of the Holy Spirit reminds us of the blood of the Lord. With Satan’s accusation, there is always the Satan-injected thought: “There is not much use. Perhaps the Lord will not forgive you.” This thought will be there even when we know that we have the blood. In other words, the reproach of the Holy Spirit leads to faith in the Lord’s blood, while Satan’s accusation causes us to lose our faith in the Lord’s blood. When a certain feeling comes, simply check whether we are reminded of the blood as a result of this feeling or whether we have been distanced from the blood. This will tell us whether the feeling is a reproach of the Holy Spirit or an accusation from Satan.

Sixth, the result of the reproach of the Holy Spirit is power from God; one will rise up on his feet and run faster. He will go on with renewed zeal, cast aside his trust in himself, and have more faith in God. However, the result of Satan’s accusation is the debilitation of the conscience. The conscience of such ones is smitten before God. They have no faith in themselves, and they have no faith in God either. It is true that the reproach of the Holy Spirit takes away our strength and our trust in ourselves. But at the same time it causes us to have more faith in the Lord. Satan’s accusation is not like this. It takes away our confidence in ourselves as well as our faith in the Lord. The result is that we become a debilitated person.

2. How to Overcome Satan’s Accusation

Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Him here refers to Satan, who accused the brothers. How do we overcome him?

First, we overcome by the blood of the Lamb. On the one hand, when we sin before the Lord, we must confess our sins. On the other hand, we must say to Satan, “There is no need for you to accuse me! I come before the Lord today by the blood of the Lord!” To overcome Satan, we must show him that we are forgiven through the blood of the Lamb. All our sins, major or minor, have been forgiven through the blood of the Lamb. This is the Word of God: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).

We must realize that the blood of the Lamb is the basis of our forgiveness before God as well as the basis of our acceptance in Him. We should not be so presumptuous as to think that we are good. Neither should we be so foolish as to condemn ourselves from morning to evening. It is foolish to be proud, and it is also foolish to keep looking at oneself. Those who consider themselves to be good are foolish, and those who are blind to the saving power of the Lord are foolish as well. Those who believe in their own power are foolish, and those who do not believe in the Lord’s power are foolish as well. We must see that the blood of the Lamb has already fulfilled all the demands of God. It has also overcome all the accusations of Satan.

Second, we overcome because of the word of our testimony. This word of our testimony declares the spiritual facts; it declares the victory of the Lord. We must tell Satan, “There is no need for you to trouble me! My sins have been forgiven through the Lord’s blood!” We need to exercise our faith to declare that Jesus is Lord and that He has won the victory. We need to speak out the word of our testimony and let Satan hear this word. We must not only believe in our hearts but also declare it to Satan with our mouth. This is the word of our testimony.

Third, we must not love our soul-life even unto death. “The blood of the Lamb” and “the word of their testimony” spoken of previously are two conditions for victory over Satan. The refusal to love one’s soul-life even unto death is an attitude. No matter what Satan is doing, even if he is putting us to death, our attitude should be such that we still trust in the blood of the Lamb and still declare His victory. Satan’s accusation will stop if we stand fast in this way. He cannot overcome us. Instead, we will surely overcome him!

Some brothers and sisters receive so much accusation from Satan that they can no longer discern whether it is an accusation from Satan or a reproach of the Holy Spirit. They should stop confessing their sins for a while; the Lord does not want us to do things foolishly. Instead, they should pray to the Lord and say, “If I have sinned, I will confess my sins and ask for Your forgiveness. But now I am under Satan’s accusation. I pray that You cover all my sins. From this point on, everything is under Your blood, and I will not be bothered by anything anymore, whether it be sin or otherwise!” Those who are in such a condition must forget about everything for a while before they can differentiate clearly between Satan’s accusation and the Holy Spirit’s reproach.

3. How to Help Those Who Are under Satan’s Accusation

We must never add to the burden of the conscience of those under Satan’s accusation. First, we should help them to do only what is within their ability to handle. If we ask them to do what is beyond their ability, they will fall easily into condemnation. We must be sure that they have enough strength before the Lord to go on before we give them stronger advice or urge them to move ahead. Second, where there is the clear work of the Holy Spirit, we should raise the standard a little, for with the clear operation of the Spirit of the Lord and the spirit of revival, the Lord’s word has the ability to uplift the capacity of a person. If we raise the standard very high when the Spirit of the Lord has not done anything, we are not helping these accused ones to go on; rather, we are giving Satan opportunities to accuse them even more.

We must not be careless in pointing out the failures of others. Suppose a brother has failed in certain areas, yet he can still pray, read the Bible, and attend the meetings. As long as you have the assurance within that you can help him, a little push may be all that is necessary to bring him through his trouble. But if you do not have the assurance within and you do not have the power to uplift him, your exposure of his failures will only quench his prayers, his reading of the Bible, and his meeting life. The smoking flax must be rekindled; it must not be smothered. The bruised reed must be supported; it must not be broken. We should not make ourselves the standard and put the conscience of others under condemnation. We must learn not to do things that would offend the conscience of others.

We must point out Hebrews 10:22 to those who are under Satan’s accusation: “Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” With such a sprinkling, our conscience should no longer feel guilty. The principle of the Christian life is a life free from any condemnation in the conscience. When a Christian is condemned in his conscience, he will be weak before God and will be debilitated in all spiritual matters. Satan’s goal is to derail us from this principle. This is the reason he accuses us unceasingly. We need to lay hold of this principle by applying the blood. The more Satan tries to make us feel guilty, the more we should apply the blood to all of our sins. The brothers overcame him not by their own strength, but by the blood of the Lamb. We can declare, “Satan, I admit that I have sinned. But I have been redeemed by the Lord! I have never denied that I am a debtor. I am in debt, but the Lord has paid my debt!” We do not need to deal with Satan’s accusation by denying that we are debtors. We can deal with him by declaring that our debt has been paid.

D. Satan’s Work in the Environment

All circumstances are arranged by God. However, there are many things in our environment which, though permitted by God, are the result of Satan’s direct and active work.

Take Job’s experience as an example. His oxen and donkeys were taken away, his house collapsed, and his children were killed. These were all things in the environment. Though they were permitted by God, Satan was the one directly instigating the attacks.

Peter’s failure was another example. The cause of his fall was partly due to himself, but partly due to Satan’s attack in the environment. The Lord said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:” (Luke 22:31). Peter’s fall was the direct result of Satan’s work. Yet it was something permitted by God.

Paul’s thorn was clearly the work of Satan. Paul said, “…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” (2 Cor. 12:7). This is the work of Satan. It is Satan who attacks God’s children in the environment.

An even clearer example can be seen in Matthew 8, when the Lord Jesus ordered the disciples to depart to the other side of the sea. He knew that powerful demons had to be cast out on the other side of the sea. After He and the disciples stepped into the boat, suddenly a great tempest arose in the sea so that the boat was covered by the waves. The Lord was asleep. The disciples came near and roused Him, saying, “Lord, save us: we perish.” (v. 25). A few of the disciples were fishermen; they were very experienced sailors. However, they realized that the waves were more than they could handle. The Lord Jesus rebuked their little faith; then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea. The winds and the sea have no personality of their own, yet the Lord rebuked them because the devil was behind them. Satan had stirred up the winds and the waves.

In conclusion, Satan not only attacks our body, our conscience, and our mind, but also attacks us through our environment.

How should we react to Satan’s attack in the environment?

First, we must humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. Both James 4 and 1 Peter 5 tell us to withstand Satan. These two portions also tell us to humble ourselves before God. When Satan attacks us in the environment, our first reaction should be to submit to God. We cannot withstand the devil if we do not submit to God. Our conscience will condemn us if we withstand the devil without submitting to God. Therefore, our first reaction should be to submit to God.

Second, we should withstand the devil. When God’s children encounter unreasonable and inexplicable things in the environment and have the clear sense within that these are attacks from Satan, they should withstand him. Once they withstand, the attacks will be behind them. On the one hand, they need to humble themselves under the hand of God. On the other hand, they must withstand Satan’s work in the environment. When they humble themselves, and their attitude before God is firm, God will show them that it is not Him but Satan who is doing the work. Thus, they will be able to differentiate God’s arrangement from Satan’s attack. Once they are clear and once they withstand the devil, the attacks will go away.

Third, we must reject all forms of fear. Satan has to find a lodging ground before he can work on God’s children. He cannot work where he has no ground to work. Therefore, his first attack is to gain a beachhead. He then attacks us from this beachhead. We should not give any ground to him. This is the way to victory. There is one area which can become Satan’s greatest stronghold—fear. When Satan tries to put us through trials, the first thing he does is to put fear into us. An experienced sister once said, “Fear is Satan’s calling card.” Once you accept fear, Satan steps in. If you reject fear, he will not be able to come in.

All thoughts of fear are attacks from Satan. Whatever you are afraid of, you will surely experience. Job said, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” (Job 3:25). Job experienced everything that he feared. Satan’s attack in the environment comes mostly in the form of fear. If you withstand the fear, the things that you fear will not come. But if you allow the fear to remain, you will give Satan the opportunity to do the very things that you fear.

Therefore, in order for God’s children to withstand the work of Satan, the first thing they have to reject is fear. When Satan puts a fear in you for this or that thing, you must not give in to this fear. You should say, “I will never accept what the Lord has not measured to me!” Once a person is delivered from fear, he is delivered from Satan’s realm. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Neither give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:27).

Why do we not need to fear? We do not fear “because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). If we are fearful, it is because we are ignorant of this fact.

II. WITHSTANDING SATAN BY FAITH

First Peter 5:8-9 says, ” Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” God’s Word shows us clearly that the way to withstand Satan is by faith. There is no other way to withstand him. What should our faith rest on? How should we exercise our faith to withstand him? Let us consider what the Word of God says concerning this.

A. Believing That the Lord’s Manifestation Is to Destroy the Works of the Devil

First, we must believe that the Lord was manifested for the purpose of destroying the works of the devil (1 John 3:8 – “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”). The Son of God has come to the earth; He was manifested. When He was on earth, He destroyed the work of the devil wherever He went. Often Satan’s work was not obvious; he hid behind natural phenomena. However, the Lord rebuked him every time. It is clear that He was rebuking Satan when He rebuked Peter’s speaking (Matt. 16:22-23 – “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”), when He rebuked the fever of Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:39-“ And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.”), and when He rebuked the winds and the waves. Although the devil hid behind many natural phenomena, the Lord Jesus rebuked him. Wherever the Lord went, the power of the devil was shattered. This is why He said, ” And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.” (Matt. 12:28). In other words, wherever the Lord went, Satan was cast out, and the kingdom of God was manifested. Satan could not remain where the Lord was. This is why He said that He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil.

We should also believe that in manifesting Himself on the earth, the Lord not only destroyed the works of the devil, but also gave authority to His disciples to cast out demons in His name. The Lord said, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19). He gave His name to the church so that His church might continue His work on earth after His ascension. The Lord used His authority on earth to cast out demons. He also gave this authority to the church.

We must distinguish between what the devil has and what we have. What the devil has is power. What we have is authority. All that Satan has is power. But the Lord Jesus has given us authority, which can overcome all the power of Satan. Power cannot prevail over authority. God has given us authority, and Satan will surely fail.

Consider an illustration of how authority overcomes power: A traffic light on a road controls traffic. When a policeman turns on the red light, all pedestrians and cars have to stop. No one is allowed to dash through a red light. The pedestrians and cars are much more powerful than the red light in terms of power. However, no pedestrian or driver will dare dash through the red light because of the presence of authority. This is an example of authority prevailing over power.

Authority prevails over power; this is God’s established policy in this universe. No matter how strong Satan’s power is, one fact remains sure—the Lord Jesus has given His name to the church. This name stands for authority. The church can cast out demons in the name of the Lord. We can invoke the Lord’s name to deal with Satan’s power. Thank God that no matter how great Satan’s power is, the Lord’s name is immeasurably greater. The authority behind the Lord’s name is strong enough to overcome all the power of Satan.

The disciples went out in the name of the Lord. They were surprised when they returned. They told the Lord, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” (10:17). The Lord’s name spells authority. His giving of His name to us means that He has given His authority to us. The Lord said, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (v. 19). Whoever desires to withstand Satan must learn to know the difference between the Lord’s authority and Satan’s power. No matter how great Satan’s power is, the Lord’s authority is able to overcome him. We must believe that God has given this authority to the church. The church can cast out demons and withstand the devil in the name of the Lord Jesus.

B. Believing That the Lord’s Death Has Destroyed Satan

Second, we must believe that through death the Lord Jesus has destroyed him who has the might of death, the devil (Heb. 2:14 – “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;”). The manifestation of the Lord Jesus destroyed the works of the devil, and the death of the Lord Jesus destroyed the devil himself.

The Lord’s death pronounces the greatest defeat for the devil because the Lord’s death is not only a punishment but also a way of salvation. In Genesis 2:17 God spoke of death: “… for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” This death is surely a punishment. Satan was delighted at this word. Since man would die if he ate the fruit, Satan tried his best to seduce man to eat it, so that death would reign in man and he could claim the victory. However, the Lord’s death constitutes the greatest way of salvation. It is true that God said, “For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” This death is punishment. But the Lord has another death. The second death is a way of salvation. Death can punish those who sin. Death can also save and deliver those who are in sin. Satan thought that death could only punish the sinner. He seized upon this fact and reigned through man’s death. However, God saves and delivers man from sin through the death of the Lord Jesus. This is the most profound aspect of the gospel.

The Lord’s death on the cross takes away not only our sins but also the whole old creation. Our old man has been crucified with him. Although Satan reigns through death, the more he reigns through death, the worse his lot becomes, because his reign stops at death. Since we are already dead, death can no longer sting us. He has no further reign over us.

“For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” God said this so that man would not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But man ate it and sinned. What then should be done? The result of sin is death; there is no way to change this. However, there is a way to salvation, a salvation which goes through death. When the Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross for us, the old creation and the old man were both crucified with Him. This means that Satan’s authority can only go as far as death. The Scripture says, “…that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” (Heb. 2:14).

Thank and praise the Lord. We are those who are already dead. If Satan attacks us, we can say to him, “I am already dead!” He has no authority over us because we are already dead. His authority extends only to the point of death.

(Note – When I learned this truth years ago, God gave me this song:

Thank God I am dead, I’m freed from sin.

The Lord Jesus Saved Me and He cleansed me within,

He searched ‘til he found me and He gave me life anew,

And the life that He gave me, He’ll give to you.

 

So go tell your brothers and sisters alike.

Tell them of Jesus and this wonderful life.

Tell them of heaven and glory to come,

Of Christ dead and risen God’s only Son.)

Our crucifixion with Christ is an accomplished fact; it is God’s doing. The Bible does not say that our death with the Lord is something that belongs to the future. It is not some experience that we hope to attain one day. The Bible does not tell us to pursue death. It shows us that we are already dead. A person is not dead if he is still pursuing death. However, our death with Christ is a gift from God in the same way that His death for us is a gift. If a man is still pursuing crucifixion, he is standing on fleshly ground, and Satan has full control over those who stand on fleshly ground. We must believe in the Lord’s death. We must also believe in our own death. Just as we believed in the Lord’s death for us, so also we should believe in our death in Him. Both are acts of faith, and neither has anything to do with human pursuits. As soon as we strive to realize these facts, we expose ourselves to Satan’s attack. We have to lay hold of the accomplished facts and declare: “Praise and thank the Lord; I am already dead.”

We must see that, in the eyes of God, our death with Christ is an accomplished fact. Once we see this, Satan can no longer do anything with us. Satan can deal only with those who are not dead. He can rule over only those who are facing death and who are on their way to death. But we are no longer facing death; we have already died. Satan can do nothing about us.

In order to withstand Satan, we must realize that the Lord’s manifestation was a manifestation of authority, and the work of His cross has released all those who are under Satan’s hand. Satan no longer has any authority over us anymore. We are above him. We are those who are already dead. Satan’s way is terminated by death, and there is nothing more that he can do.

C. Believing That the Lord’s Resurrection Has Put Satan to Shame

Third, we must believe that the Lord’s resurrection has put Satan to shame. Satan no longer has any way to attack us.

Colossians 2:12 says, “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” This verse speaks of death as well as resurrection. Verse 13 tells us how we died and resurrected; verse 14 tells us what the Lord did at the time of His death; and verse 15 says that the Lord Jesus stripped off the rulers and the authorities and “….having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Verse 20 says, “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ….” and 3:1 says, “If ye then be risen with Christ,” These verses begin with resurrection and end with resurrection, and the verses in between speak of triumphing in the cross. We stand in the position of resurrection, and we triumph in the cross.

Why can we do this? The statement we made earlier explains this: The Lord has died, and we also are dead in Him. Satan, who has dominion over the old man, can follow us only as far as the cross. Resurrection is beyond him. Just as Satan had nothing in the Lord Jesus while He was on earth (John 14:30), so also he has nothing in Him in resurrection. Satan has no place at all in the new life. He has no authority at all in the new life and cannot touch our new life!

When the Lord was hung on the cross, it seemed as if myriads of demons were surrounding it. They thought that they could destroy the Son of God. It was to have been their greatest victory. Little did they realize that the Lord Jesus would go into death, come out of death, and overcome the authority of death! Here is the glorious fact: The Lord has come out of death! Therefore, we have the boldness and the confidence to say that the life of God is well able to cast away death!

What is the resurrection life? The resurrection life is a life that cannot be touched by death. It is a life that transcends death, that is beyond the boundary of death, that comes out of death, and that death cannot hold. Satan’s power extends only as far as death. The Lord Jesus proved how great the power of His life is through His resurrection. He dismantled the power of Satan. The Bible calls this power the “the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10). When this resurrection power is expressed through us, everything of Satan is cast down!

We can withstand Satan because our life is a life of resurrection. This life has nothing to do with Satan. Our life issues from the life of God; it is a life that comes out of death. Satan’s power only goes as far as death. Whatever it does to us is limited to this side of death. But our life has come out of death. We have a life which he cannot touch. We are standing on resurrection ground, and we look back in triumph through the cross. Colossians 2 speaks of triumphing in resurrection. It is a chapter on resurrection, not death. We do not triumph in death through resurrection; rather we triumph in resurrection through death.

In order to withstand Satan, every child of God must declare with a strong faith, “Thank God, I have resurrected! Satan, what can you do? What you can do goes only so far as death. But the life that I have today has nothing to do with you! This life has been tested by you already. What else can you do? You are powerless! This life has transcended over you! Satan, get away from me!”

We cannot deal with Satan on the ground of hope. We can only stand on the ground of resurrection, the ground of the Lord. This is a very basic principle. Colossians 2:12 tells us that we must believe in “faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

We need to take the same position before Satan as that which we take before God. The Bible tells us to put on the robe of righteousness when we come before God (Isa. 61:10; Zech. 3:4-5). Our robe of righteousness is Christ. We need to put on Christ to come before God. In the same way, we need to put on Christ to come before Satan. God cannot find our sins when we put on Christ. Likewise, Satan cannot find our sins when we are in Christ. When we take this stand, Satan can no longer attack us. We are perfect before God and perfect also before Satan. What a glorious fact!

We must not be afraid of Satan. If we are afraid of Satan, he will laugh at us. He will say, “What a fool there is on earth. How can this one be so foolish?” Anyone who is afraid of Satan is foolish, because he has forgotten his position in Christ. We have no reason to fear him. We have transcended over his power. We can stand before him and say, “You cannot touch me! No matter how strong and resourceful you are, you are still one step behind!” On the day of the Lord’s resurrection, He led the enemy captive and openly shamed him. Today we are standing on the ground of resurrection, and we triumph through the cross!

D. Believing That the Ascension of the Lord Is Far above the Power of Satan

Fourth, we must believe that the ascension of the Lord has put Him far above the power of Satan. Ephesians 1:20-22 says, “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” This means that the Lord Jesus is already seated in the heavenlies and is far above all the power of Satan.

Ephesians 2:6 says, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” This is our position, the position of a Christian. The Lord Jesus is resurrected; He is seated in the heavenlies far above all the power of Satan. We are raised up together with Christ and are seated together with Him in the heavenlies, far above all the power of Satan.

Ephesians 6:11 to 13 says, ” 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.” Chapter two shows us that we are seated together with the Lord in the heavenlies. Chapter six shows us that we need to stand firm. Chapter two says that we need to sit, while chapter six says that we need to stand. What does it mean to sit? To sit means to rest. It means that the Lord has overcome and that we can now rest in His victory. This is what it means to depend on the Lord’s victory. What does it mean to stand? To stand means that spiritual warfare is not a matter of assault but of defense. To stand does not mean to attack; it means to defend. Because the Lord has overcome completely, we have no need to attack again. The victory of the cross is complete, and there is no further need to attack. Here we see two attitudes: One is to sit, and the other is to stand. To sit is to rest in the Lord’s victory, while to stand is to withstand Satan and to stop him from taking away our victory.

Christian warfare is a matter of warding off defeat; it is not a matter of fighting for victory. We have already overcome. We fight from the position of victory, and we fight to maintain our victory. We are not fighting to win a victory. We fight from victory; victory is something that is in our hands. The warfare spoken of in Ephesians is the warfare of the overcomers. We do not become overcomers through fighting. We need to distinguish between these two things.

How does Satan tempt us? He causes us to forget our own position and our victory. He blinds our eyes to our own victory. If we give in to his tactics, we will feel that victory is far away and beyond our reach. We must remember that the victory of the Lord is complete. It is so complete that our whole life is included in this victory! Once we believe, we overcome. Satan is defeated and we have overcome in Christ. Satan wants to steal away the victory which we have gained. His work is to taunt us to secretly find out if we still have the faith. If we do not know that victory is already ours, we will fail. But if we know our victory, his work will fail.

Therefore, we counter the work of Satan with the work of the Lord Jesus. We withstand Satan through the Lord’s manifestation, death, resurrection, and ascension. We are standing today upon the accomplished work of the Lord. We do not need to try to overcome in any way when Satan attacks us. Once we have the slightest thought of trying to overcome, we have failed, because our position is wrong. How great is the difference between a person who tries to overcome and one who withstands by knowing that he has already overcome. To withstand the devil means that we withstand him by the victory of Christ.

This matter indeed needs revelation. We need to see the manifestation of the Lord. We need to see His death, resurrection, and ascension. We need to know all these things.

As Christians we must learn to withstand the devil. We must say to Satan under all circumstances, “Get away from me!” May God be gracious to us so that we may all have such a faith. May we have faith toward the four things the Lord has accomplished for us, and may we exercise strong faith to withstand Satan and reject his work upon us.

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(Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  David Williams – site Admin.)

Meeting With Believers – Eklesia or Church – Lesson 11

MEETING WITH BELIEVERS – THE CHURCH

Scripture Reading: Heb. 10:25; Matt. 18:20; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 14:23, 26

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.  (Hebrews 10:25)

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.  (Matthew 18:20)

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.  (Acts 2:42)

Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:22-33)

 

I. CORPORATE GRACE BEING FOUND IN THE MEETING

God’s Word says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25). Why should we not abandon the assembling together? Because God dispenses His grace to us through the assembling together. God’s grace to man can be divided into two categories –personal and corporate. God gives us not only personal grace but also corporate grace. This corporate grace can be found only in the assembling together or the meetings of the Baptist Church.

We have already spoken of the subject of prayer. One can learn to pray by himself at home; there is no doubt that God listens to such prayers. God listens to individual prayers. However, there is another kind of prayer. In order for this other kind of prayer to be answered, it must be prayed in the meetings, in the principle of two or three asking together in the Lord’s name. If a person tries to do this alone, he will not get any answer. Many great matters must be prayed over in church meetings before God will answer. They must be brought to the prayer meeting before we see them come to pass. God’s corporate grace comes to man only through the church meetings. You may think that it is sufficient for a man to pray alone and that he can seek God’s mercy by himself. But the experience of many people tells us that individual prayers alone will not work. It seems that unless two or three people pray, or all the brothers and sisters come together to pray, God will not answer. Therefore, we have two kinds of answers to prayers: One is answer to individual prayers, and the other is answer to church assembly prayers. If we do not meet with others, some prayers will not be answered.

We have also spoken of reading the Bible. Of course, God will give us individual grace when we read the Bible. However, some portions of the Word cannot be opened up by one person alone. God gives light when we meet at church, when we assemble ourselves together. In such a church meeting, some pastor or teacher may be led to open up a particular portion of the Word. There may not be any speaking concerning that particular portion of the Word, yet the fact that everyone is assembled together gives God the opportunity to shed His light. Many brothers and sisters can testify that they understand more of God’s Word in the church meeting than when they study it individually. Many times in the church meeting, God opens up one portion of the Word through another portion of the Word. As one person speaks on one passage, light shines on another passage. In this way more light is unveiled, and we receive grace in a corporate way.

If we do not meet with others in church, the most we can have is individual grace; we will miss a great part of the corporate grace. God will only give us corporate grace in the church meeting. If we do not meet with others in church, we will not receive this grace. This is why the Bible charges us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

II. THE CHURCH AND THE MEETING

One outstanding characteristic of the church is that it meets. A Christian can never substitute church meetings with “self-taught” pursuits. God has a category of grace reserved for the church  meetings only. If we do not meet with others, that portion of corporate grace will not be available to us.

In the Old Testament God commanded the Israelites to meet. In many places in the Bible they are called the congregation. That they were called a congregation meant they had to meet together. When we come to the New Testament, the revelation is even clearer. We have the clear commandment not to abandon “our own assembling together.” God is not that interested in individuals being “self-taught.” We must assemble ourselves together before we can receive His corporate grace. No forsaker of church meetings will keep His grace. It is a foolish thing to abandon assembling together. A man must meet; he must come together with other children of God before he can receive the corporate grace.

The Bible gives explicit commandments as well as clear examples of people meeting together. When the Lord was on the earth, He often met with His disciples. He met with them on the mountain (Matt. 5:1), in the wilderness (Mark 6:32-34), at home (2:1-2), and at the seaside (4:1). On the last evening before His crucifixion, He borrowed a large upper room and met with the disciples (14:15-17). After His resurrection, He appeared in the midst of their gathering (John 20:19, 26; Acts 1:4). Before the day of Pentecost, the disciples gathered together in one accord to pray (v. 14). When the day of Pentecost came, they were also gathered together (2:1). After that they continued steadfastly in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. Shortly thereafter, they were persecuted and went back to their own places. Yet they still met together (4:23-31). After Peter was released, he went to the house where the disciples were gathered together (12:12). First Corinthians 14 tells us clearly that the whole church gathered together (v. 23). It was the whole church that gathered together. No one who is part of the church can be exempt from meeting together with the church.

What is the meaning of the word church? The word church is ekklesia in Greek. Ek means “to come out,” while klesia means “to congregate or to gather.” Thus, ekklesia means the gathering of those who have been called out. God is not only after some called out ones; He wants the called out ones to gather together. If all the called out ones are separated from one another, we will not have the church; the church will not be produced.

After we have believed in the Lord there is a basic need we must take care of, that is, to come together with other children of God. We should never have the strange thought that we can be “self-taught” Christians. We must eliminate such a thought from our mind. Christianity does not have “self-taught” Christians; it only has the gathering of the whole church. Do not think that we can be Christians who just shut ourselves up to pray and to read the Bible alone at home. Christianity is not built on just individuals but also on the assembling together.

III. THE FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY
MANIFESTED THROUGH THE MEETING

First Corinthians 12 speaks of the Body, and chapter fourteen speaks of the meeting. Chapter twelve speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and chapter fourteen also speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Chapter twelve speaks of the gifts in the Body, whereas chapter fourteen speaks of the gifts in the church. According to these two chapters, it seems that the mutual functioning of the members of the Body is expressed in the meeting. When we put chapters twelve and fourteen together, we see clearly that chapter twelve shows us the Body while chapter fourteen shows us the Body in function. One chapter speaks of the Body, while the other speaks of the meeting. One speaks of the gifts in the Body, while the other speaks of the gifts in the meeting. The functioning of the Body is realized specifically through the meeting. The mutual help, mutual influence, and mutual care of the members (e.g., the eyes helping the legs, the ears helping the hands, the hands helping the mouth) are more clearly manifested in the meetings. Through the meeting, we receive many answers to prayer. We often receive no light individually. But when we come to the church meeting, we find light. What we see individually through our own pursuit can never match what we see in the church meetings. All the ministries ordained by God operate through the meeting and are for the meeting. If a person rarely meets with others, he will have little opportunity to realize the functioning of the Body.

In addition to being the Body of Christ, the church is also the dwelling place of God. In the Old Testament the light of God was in the Holy of Holies. There was sunlight in the outer court, and there was the lamp with olive oil burning before the veil in the Holy Place. But in the Holy of Holies, there was no natural or artificial light. There was only the light of God. The Holy of Holies is the place where God dwells. Wherever God dwells, there is His light. Today when the church gathers together as the dwelling place of God, we find God’s light. When the church meets together, God manifests His light. We do not know why this happens. We can say only that this is one of the results of the mutual functioning of the members. The mutual functioning allows God’s light to be expressed through the Body.

Deuteronomy 32:30 says, “How shall one chase a thousand, /And two put ten thousand to flight,/Were it not that their Rock sold them,/And Jehovah delivered them up?” If one could chase a thousand, how could two put ten thousand to flight? This is a strange thing. We do not know how, but we know that this is a fact. According to man, if one can chase a thousand, two should be able to chase only two thousand. But God says two can chase ten thousand, which is eight thousand more. When two chase separately, each can chase a thousand. Putting the two together, we should only have two thousand. But when two are joined together to chase the enemy, we have the mutual functioning of the members, and they can chase ten thousand, eight thousand more than if it is done separately. A person who does not know the Body and who does not care about meeting together will lose the eight thousand. Therefore, we need to learn to receive corporate grace. Do not think that personal grace is enough. We repeat: A special characteristic of Christianity is that it meets. A Christian can never substitute meeting with “self-taught” pursuits. We need to see this clearly and pay attention to it.

The Lord promises us two kinds of presence. One is in Matthew 28, and the other is in Matthew 18. In Matthew 28:20 the Lord said, ” lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. ” One can say that this implies His presence in individuals. In Matthew 18:20 the Lord said, “For where two or three are gathered together in (into) my name, there am I in the midst of them.” His presence here refers to His presence in the meeting. Only in the meeting can we have this second kind of presence. The Lord’s presence with an individual and His presence in the meeting are two different things. Some only know the Lord’s presence as individuals. But this knowledge is insufficient. The more compelling and powerful presence is experienced only in the meeting; we cannot experience such a presence individually. Although individually we can have the Lord’s presence, this presence is never as great or as powerful as His presence in the meetings. But when we are among the saints we can touch a presence which we could not otherwise experience as individuals. We have to learn to meet together with the brothers and sisters because it is in the meeting that we experience the Lord’s special presence. This is a tremendous blessing. This presence can never be felt by us as individuals. It is impossible to find a “self-taught” Christian who can experience this kind of powerful presence of the Lord.

It is a spontaneous thing for God’s children to function in mutuality when they come together. We do not know how this mutuality in the Body works in the meeting, but we know that this mutuality is a fact. When one brother stands up, others see the light. When another brother stands up, others feel the Lord’s presence. One brother opens his mouth to pray and others touch God. Another brother speaks a few words and others feel the supply of life. This phenomenon cannot be explained by human words; it surpasses human explanation. Only when the Lord comes back will we really know how the Body of Christ functions in mutuality. Today we merely obey the Lord’s ordination.

Perhaps you have not paid much attention to the church meeting because you have just been saved. You do not know what the light of the Body is and what the function and efficacy of the Body is. However, experience tells us that many fundamental spiritual lessons are learned only in the Body. The more you meet, the more you learn. If you do not meet, you have no part at all in these riches. Therefore, we hope that you will learn to meet properly from the very beginning of your Christian life.

IV. THE PRINCIPLES OF MEETING

How should we meet? The first principle in the Bible concerning meetings is that all meetings are conducted in the Lord’s name. Matthew 18:20 says, “Gathered into My name,” which can also be translated as, “Gathered under My name.” What does it mean to be gathered under the Lord’s name? It means to be under the Lord’s authority. The Lord is the center, and everyone is drawn to Him. We do not go to a meeting to visit certain brothers or sisters, nor do we go because we are attracted by certain brothers or sisters. We go to the meeting to be gathered together with other saints under the Lord’s name. The Lord is the center. We do not meet to listen to someone’s preaching but to meet the Lord. If you meet to listen to someone’s preaching, I am afraid you are coming under that person’s name, not under the Lord’s name. A preacher may have a name and a following but it is the Lord that speaks through him.  Sometimes, men’s names are used to attract people. This is to draw men under that person’s name. But the Lord says that we have to meet under His name.

We should come under the Lord’s name because the Lord is not with us in a physical sense (Luke 24:5-6). Whenever the Lord is not physically present, there is the need of His name. When the Lord is physically present, there is less of a need for His name. The name is present because the person Himself is not present. As far as His physical body is concerned, the Lord is in heaven. Yet He has left us with a name. The Lord has promised that if we meet under His name, He will be in our midst. This means that His Spirit will be in our midst. Although the Lord is sitting in heaven, His name is still in our midst, and His Spirit is also in our midst. The Holy Spirit is the One who upholds the Lord’s name. The Holy Spirit is the guardian of Christ’s name; He protects and guards the Lord’s name. Wherever there is the name of the Lord, there is the Holy Spirit, and there the Lord’s name is manifested. Those who want to meet must meet under the Lord’s name.

The second principle of meeting is that its goal should be for the building up of others. In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul told us that the basic principle of meeting is to build up others, not ourselves. Everything in the church meeting should be for the purpose of building up others, not ourselves. Tongue speaking builds up the speaker, but the interpretation of tongues builds up others. In other words, every move that builds up just one person is in the principle of tongue-speaking. The principle of the interpretation of tongues is to dispense into others what we ourselves have been built up with, that others may also be built up. This is why there should not be any tongue-speaking in the church meeting if no one can interpret the tongue. No one should speak anything that builds up himself and not others.  The truth is that speaking in tongues is not necessary unless there are more than one language in church like in some foreign countries.  I have been in a church where there were head sets that allowed the people attending to hear in many different languages.  This is the true meaning of tongues.  There should be no tongues as we see in Charismatic churches because tongues are languages that people speak and if someone speaks in German there should be someone to interpret into English.  This happens every Sunday in some missionary meeting on the foreign field.

Hence, we must consider others when we meet. It is not how much we say, but whether or not what we say builds up others. Whether or not sisters can ask questions in the meeting is determined by the same principle. Asking questions in the meeting is not just for one’s own benefit. It is a matter of whether or not the meeting would be dragged down by such questions. Do you want to help the meeting? The clearest indication of whether or not a man’s individuality has been dealt with is seen in the church meeting. Some only think of themselves. They have a message in their heart which they want to preach, and they must speak it when they come to the meeting. They have a hymn in their heart which they like to sing, and they will do anything to find an opportunity to sing it. They do not care whether the message will help the meeting or whether the hymn will enliven the congregation. This kind of person brings nothing but damage to the meeting. This is why God ordained pastors and teachers so that new Christians can learn from them and a properly organized church will let everyone learn to teach as they sit and learn from more experienced teachers and pastors.

Some brothers have been Christians for years, yet they still do not know how to meet. They care little for heaven or earth, the Lord or the Holy Spirit; they only care about themselves. They seem to think that as long as they are present, even alone, they can have a meeting. In their eyes, none of the brothers and sisters exist; they are the only ones who are present. There are far too many who go to church to warm a seat or pew.  People need to get involved and add something to their church.  This is truly arrogant. When they speak in the meeting, they want to speak until they are satisfied. In the end they are the only ones who are happy; the other brothers and sisters are all unhappy. They feel that they have a “burden” which must be released. But as soon as they open their mouths, others are forced to pick up this “burden” and take it home with them. This is why God ordained pastors and teachers so some can’t just come and decide that they want to say something without doing it under the authority of the pastor.  This often happens in a church business meeting or a prayer meeting.  Some like long prayers. When they pray, others become tired. When someone breaks the principles of the meeting, the whole church suffers. We must not offend the Holy Spirit in a meeting. Once we offend the Holy Spirit, all the blessing is gone. In the church meeting, if we take care of the needs of others and try to build up others, the Holy Spirit will be honored. He will do the building up work, and we will be built up. However, if we do not build up others but talk loosely and offend the Holy Spirit, our meeting will be in vain. When we meet, we should not think of getting something out of the meeting for ourselves. All the activities should be for the benefit of others. If you think your speaking will benefit others, you should try to get an opportunity to teach or speak. If you think your silence will benefit others, remain silent. Always try to take care of others; this is the basic principle of meeting together.

This does not mean that everyone should be silent in the church meeting. Many times speaking damages others, but silence also damages others. If you do not care for others, the meeting will suffer whether you speak or remain quiet. Your speaking must be for the benefit of the meeting, and your silence must also be for the benefit of the meeting. Always seek the building up of others. Those who should speak should not remain silent. In the meeting, please remember, “Let all things be done for building up” (1 Cor. 14:26). Everyone should come to the meeting with a goal in mind –he is there for others, not just for himself. We should never do anything that will stumble others. If our silence will stumble others, we should speak. If our speaking will stumble others, we should be silent. We need to learn to speak for the purpose of building up others, and we need to learn to be silent also for the purpose of building up others. Whatever we do, it is for the purpose of building up others, not ourselves. When we are not for ourselves, we will end up being built up ourselves. But when we think only of ourselves, we will not receive any building up.

If you are not sure whether your speaking will build up others, the best thing to do is to check with more experienced brothers, the pastor, the assistant pastor, deacons, or teachers. You should ask them, “Do you think I should speak more or less in the meeting?” You have to learn to be a humble person from the beginning. Do not think that you are “somebody.” Do not think that you can sing and preach well and that you are great. Please do not make any judgment about yourself. The best thing to do is to ask the experienced brothers. Check with them to see whether your speaking builds up others. Speak more if they encourage you to do so. Speak less if they remind you to speak less. Sometimes, the best thing you can say is “Amen” or “Praise the Lord.”  Our meeting will be high if everyone humbles himself to learn from others. When this happens, others will sense that God is in our midst when they come in. This is the result of the operation of the Holy Spirit. I hope we will pay attention to this matter. If we do, our meeting will glorify God.

V. IN CHRIST

Here I should mention another matter. Whenever we meet and whenever we fellowship with one another mutually, we should remember that, as believers, we are one in Christ. Let us read some verses:

First Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” The word whether means that there is no distinction. In the Body of Christ there are no worldly distinctions. In one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body and were given to drink one Spirit.

Galatians 3:27-28 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” We were baptized into Christ, and we have also put on Christ. There cannot be Jew or Greek, slave or free man, male or female, because we have all become one in Christ.

Colossians 3:10-11 says, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” Both Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11 use the phrase there cannot be. There cannot be any distinctions because we have put on the new man; we are being constituted into one new man. This new man is created according to God (Eph. 4:24). In the new man there cannot be Greek or Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian or Scythian, slave or free man. Only Christ is all and in all. There is only one entity, and all have become one.

In reading these three portions of the Scripture, we notice that the believers are one in Christ. In the Lord there is no distinction of past status. In the new man and in the Body of Christ, there is no difference whatsoever. If we introduce these manmade distinctions into the church, the relationship among the brothers and sisters will be shifted to the wrong ground.

We have mentioned five distinctions so far: the distinction between Greek and Jew, between free man and slave, between male and female, between barbarian and Scythian, and between circumcision and uncircumcision.

The distinction between Greek and Jew means two things. First the Jews and the Greeks are two different races; they belong to two different countries. In the Body of Christ, in Christ, and in the new man, there cannot be Jew or Greek. The Jews should not boast that they are descendants of Abraham and God’s chosen people, and they should not despise all foreigners. We must realize that both Jews and Greeks have been made one in Christ already. Boundaries no longer exist in Christ. In the Lord all have become brothers. We cannot divide God’s children into different classes. In the Body of Christ and in the new man, there is only one entity. If you bring the idea of kinship and regional flavor into the church, you do not know what the church of Christ is. You are in the church now, and you must see that we have no distinction between Jew and Greek here. It is a hard thing for the Jews to give up this distinction. But the Bible says that in Christ there cannot be Jew and Greek. Christ is all and in all. In the church there is only Christ.

There is another distinction between the Jews and the Greeks. Jews have a zealous and religious temperament, while Greeks represent an intellectual temperament. Historically, whenever you speak of religion, people think of the Jews. Whenever you speak of science and philosophy, people think of the Greeks. This is a distinction in character. However, no matter how different their characters are, Jews can be Christians, and Greeks also can be Christians. Those who are zealous for religion can be Christians, and those who are intellectual also can be Christians. In Christ, there is no distinction between Jews and Greeks. One is concerned with the feeling of the conscience, and the other is concerned with reasoning and deduction. Are these two different? According to the flesh, they definitely are different in disposition. One acts according to feelings, and the other acts according to intellect. But in Christ there is no distinction between Jews and Greeks. A warm person can be a Christian, and a cold person also can be a Christian. The one who walks by intuition can be a Christian, and the one who walks by reason also can be a Christian. All kinds of people can be Christians.

Once you become a Christian, you must leave your past temperament behind. There is no such thing in the church. Often the church suffers because many people try to bring their natural flavor and peculiar traits into the church. When those who do not like to talk gather together, they become a quiet group. When those who chatter gather together, they become a chattering group. When those who are cold gather together, they become a group of cold people. When those who are warm gather together, they become a group of warm people. As a result, many distinctions are built up among God’s children.

However, there is no place for natural dispositions in the church. In Christ and in the new man, there is no place for natural disposition. Do not think that others are wrong because their disposition is different from yours. You must realize that your own disposition is also unacceptable to others. Whether you are quick or quiet, cold or warm, intellectual or emotional, once you become a brother or a sister, you must put off these things. If you bring these natural elements into the church, they will become the basis of confusion and division. When you bring your disposition and temperament into the church, you will make yourself the standard and the criteria. Those who are up to your standard will be classified as good Christians, and those who are not up to your standard will be classified as poor Christians. Those who get along with your character will be deemed right and those who do not get along with your character will be deemed wrong. When this happens, the church will suffer through your disposition and temperament. Such distinctions must never exist in the church.

The second distinction is between free men and slaves. This distinction has also been eliminated in Christ. In Christ, the distinction between free men and slaves does not exist.

Paul wrote the Epistles of 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and Colossians during the Roman era when slavery was practiced. At that time slaves were like animals or tools; they were their masters’ possessions. Children born to slaves were automatically slaves; they had no freedom their whole life. The distinction between the free man and the slave was very great. However, God does not allow this distinction to exist in the church. The Epistles of 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and Colossians all say that there cannot be free man or slave. This distinction has been eliminated in Christ.

The third distinction is between male and female. In Christ and in the new man, the male and the female have the same status; there is no distinction between them. The male does not occupy a special position; neither does the female. Because Christ is all and in all, there is no distinction between male and female. In spiritual matters there is no difference between male and female. A brother is saved by the life of Christ, that is, by the life of God’s Son. A sister also is saved by the life of Christ, the life of God’s Son. The brother has become God’s son, and the sister has become God’s son as well. In Christ we are all God’s sons, and there is no distinction between male and female.

The fourth distinction is between barbarians and Scythians. This is a distinction of culture. There are differences in cultural standards, yet Paul told us that the cultural distinctions of barbarians and Scythians alike have been abolished in Christ.

Of course, we should learn to be a Jew among Jews, and to be as under law to those under law (1 Cor. 9:20-22). Among people of other cultures, we should behave according to their culture. We should learn to be one with all people in all places. When we contact those of a different culture, we should learn to be one with them in Christ.

The final distinction is between circumcision and uncircumcision. This distinction has to do with marks of piety in the flesh. The Jews have the mark of circumcision on their bodies. It shows that they belong to God, that they fear God, and that they reject the flesh. Yet they overemphasize circumcision. Acts 15 speaks of some Jews who tried to compel the Gentiles to be circumcised.

Christians also have their “marks of piety in the flesh.” For example, baptism, head covering, the breaking of bread, the laying on of hands, and so on can all become marks of piety. Baptism has a spiritual meaning, but it can also be a mark of piety in the flesh. Head covering with the sisters has a spiritual meaning, but it can also be a mark of piety in the flesh. Bread-breaking and the laying on of hands have spiritual meanings, but they can also become marks of piety in the flesh. All of these things have spiritual meaning; they are all spiritual matters. However, we may use these things to separate God’s children, boasting about marks which others do not have, and the result is disunity. If we do this, we have downgraded these matters from their spiritual level and made them mere physical marks in the flesh. When this happens, we become, in principle, the same as the Jews who boasted in circumcision; our baptism, head covering, bread-breaking, and hand-laying have become our “circumcision.” If we differentiate between God’s children based on these things, we have made distinctions according to the flesh. However, in Christ there is no distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision. No physical mark of the flesh can be used to differentiate God’s children. In Christ we are made one. The life in Christ is one. All of these things are outside of the life of Christ. Of course, it is good to have the spiritual reality that accompanies these physical marks. But if one has the spiritual reality yet is lacking in the physical marks, we cannot count him out. God’s children should not allow physical marks to damage the oneness in the Lord and the oneness in the new man.

We all are brothers and sisters. We are the new man in Christ. We all are members in the Body, and we all are parts of the Body. Once we are in the church, we should not have any distinction outside of Christ. Everyone stands on new ground. Everyone is in the new man created by the Lord and everyone is in the Body built up by Him. We must see that all of God’s children are one. There is no place for superiority or inferiority. We must eliminate the denominational and sectarian thoughts from our hearts. If we do this, there will be no division in the meeting of the church of God and in the fellowship between the saints. We have to pay attention to these matters in the meeting, and we have to live out such a life in our daily walk. May God bless us.

One of the best lessons on the church is a book by Dr. Jack Hyles, former pastor of the great First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana.  What was written by Watchman Nee is good and he defines the church as a local body of believers meeting together which is very true.  However, due to the fact that he was isolated in China from the Baptist Movement that has been ongoing since the days of Jesus and the Apostles, I have included the online version of this book here:

The Church Defined – Part 1

The Church Defined – Part 2

To read more about the history of Baptists and their persecution through history and also about the attempt by Satan to destroy the Bible in English, the KJV please see the links below and read as much as you can after reading about the definition of the Baptist Church which is the same church that Jesus founded when he ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost

Read about the TRAIL OF BLOOD

View the Trail of Blood Chart of History

The Pre-Millennial Return of Christ

 

History of Pre-Millennialism

Buy the book here – New Age Bible Versions by  Dr. Riplinger

Read Who Were the King James Translators

The Bible that GOD HAS USED

Famous Scientists who Believed in God

Famous Baptists in History.

I CHALLENGE ANYONE WHO IS READING THESE LESSONS TO FIND A GOOD INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCH TO GO TO THAT YOU CAN GET INVOLVED WITH AND LEARN TO WIN SOULS AND TO TAKE A CLASS OR A BUS ROUTE, OR SING IN THE CHOIR OR EVEN HELP CLEAN THE CHURCH AND SET UP CHAIRS OR GET READY FOR MEETINGS.  GOD WILL BLESS YOU AS YOU DEDICATE YOUR LIFE TO HIM AND HIS LOCAL BODY OF BELIEVERS.

WANT TO KNOW JESUS PERSONALLY?  CLICK HERE

Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.


CONSECRATION

Scripture Reading: Exo. 28:1-2, 40-41; 29:1-25; Lev. 8:14-28; Rom. 6:13, 16, 19; 12:1; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 5:14-15

And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. (Exodus 28:1)

And for Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty. And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. (Exodus 28:40-41)

And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest’s office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish, And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them. And thou shalt put them into one basket, and bring them in the basket, with the bullock and the two rams. And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water. And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod: And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre. Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him. And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them. And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest’s office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons. And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock. And thou shalt kill the bullock before the LORD, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar. And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar. But the flesh of the bullock, and his skin, and his dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it is a sin offering. Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar. And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and wash the inwards of him, and his legs, and put them unto his pieces, and unto his head. And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the LORD: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about. And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him. Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration: And one loaf of bread, and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer out of the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the LORD: And thou shalt put all in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons; and shalt wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. And thou shalt receive them of their hands, and burn them upon the altar for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour before the LORD: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD. (Exodus 29:1-25)

 

And he brought the bullock for the sin offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering. And he slew it; and Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it. And he took all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and Moses burned it upon the altar. But the bullock, and his hide, his flesh, and his dung, he burnt with fire without the camp; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he brought the ram for the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram. And he killed it; and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. And he cut the ram into pieces; and Moses burnt the head, and the pieces, and the fat. And he washed the inwards and the legs in water; and Moses burnt the whole ram upon the altar: it was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, and an offering made by fire unto the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram. And he slew it; and Moses took of the blood of it, and put it upon the tip of Aaron’s right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot. And he brought Aaron’s sons, and Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet: and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. And he took the fat, and the rump, and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right shoulder: And out of the basket of unleavened bread, that was before the LORD, he took one unleavened cake, and a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and put them on the fat, and upon the right shoulder: And he put all upon Aaron’s hands, and upon his sons’ hands, and waved them for a wave offering before the LORD. And Moses took them from off their hands, and burnt them on the altar upon the burnt offering: they were consecrations for a sweet savour: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.  (Leviticus 8:14-28)

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  (Romans 6:13)

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  (Romans 6:16)

I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.  (Romans 6:19)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  (Romans 12:1)

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

 

Let us now turn to the matter of Christian consecration.

Whether or not a person consecrates himself depends on whether he has a healthy salvation experience. If he views his faith in the Lord Jesus as being a favor to the Lord and his faith in God as a courtesy to Him, it will be impossible to talk to him about consecration. It is equally futile to talk about consecration to a person who feels that he is promoting the cause of Christianity and that his conversion is a great honor to it. Such a one does not have a good start in his Christian faith; he does not have a good beginning. It is impossible to expect him to consecrate himself. We must realize that it is the Lord who has graced us and granted mercy to us. It is the Lord who loves us and has saved us. This is why we consecrate our all to Him.

Teaching concerning consecration can be found in both the Old Testament and New Testament. Many passages in the New Testament, such as Romans 6 and 12, speak of consecration. In the Old Testament consecration is spoken of with special reference to Aaron and his household. Exodus 28 and 29 and Leviticus 8 speak of the consecration of Aaron and his household. Although consecration is the first basic experience of our service to God, we do not find many direct teachings from God’s Word concerning it. In order to understand the meaning of consecration, we need to study the above referenced verses.

I. THE BASIS OF CONSECRATION

Second Corinthians 5:14-15 clearly shows us that the constraining power of the Lord’s love is the basis for God’s children to live unto Him who died for them and has been raised. A man lives unto the Lord because he is constrained by the Lord’s love. According to the original language, the word constrained can be translated “pressed on from all sides,” that is, tightly confined on all sides. It means to be tightly bound and wrapped up. Love has bound us up, and we cannot run away. When a person is in love, he will have a sense of bondage. We are bound by Him; we have no way out. He has died for us, and we should live unto Him today. Hence, love is the basis of consecration. A man consecrates himself to the Lord because of the Lord’s love. No one can consecrate himself unless he first touches the Lord’s love. A man must touch the Lord’s love before he can consecrate himself to Him. When one touches the Lord’s love, consecration spontaneously follows.

Consecration is based on the Lord’s love. But it is also based on the Lord’s right. This is the truth revealed in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “….and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: ….. “Our Lord gave His own life for us; He even became the ransom to purchase us back to Himself. We are those who are purchased by the Lord. Because the Lord has redeemed us, we willingly lose our own freedom for Him. We are no longer our own; we are the Lord’s. We must glorify God in our bodies because we are not our own; we have been bought by the Lord with a price. The blood which the Lord shed on the cross is the price He paid. Therefore, as far as the Lord’s right is concerned, we belong to the Lord.

We must be clear that we are those purchased by the Lord. He has purchased us with the highest price. He bought us, not with silver or gold, but with His own blood. Here we see the Lord’s love as well as His right. We serve the Lord because He loves us, and we follow Him because He has a right over us. The right secured through redemption constrains us to give ourselves to the Lord. The love that results from redemption also constrains us to give ourselves to Him. The basis of consecration is His right as well as His love. It is a legal right, and it is beyond all human sentimental love. These are the two reasons that we have to give ourselves to the Lord.

II. THE MEANING OF CONSECRATION

Merely being constrained by love or acknowledging His legal right does not constitute consecration. After a person has been constrained by the Lord’s love and has acknowledged His right, there is a further step that he should take. This step will bring him on to a new position. Through the Lord’s constraining and based on His purchase, we separate ourselves from every other thing. Henceforth, we live for and unto the Lord. This is consecration. In some instances in the Old Testament, the Chinese Union Version translates the word consecration as “the receiving of the holy service.” To receive the holy service is to receive the ministry of service to God. This is a holy service. This is consecration. Consecration is receiving the ministry of serving God. It is to say to the Lord, “Today I will separate myself from everything to serve You, because You have loved me.”

III. A CONSECRATED PERSON

Let us look at Exodus 28:1-2 and 29:1, 4, 9-10.

After reading these verses, we can see that consecration is a very special matter. The nation of Israel was a nation chosen by God (Exo. 19:5-6), but it did not become a consecrated nation. There were twelve tribes among the Israelites, but not all the twelve tribes received the holy service. The tribe of Levi was one of the twelve tribes. They were a tribe chosen by God (Num. 3:11-13), but they were not a consecrated tribe. Among the many Levites, only the household of Aaron received the holy service. Not all of the Israelites received the holy service, not even all of the Levites. Only the household of Aaron received the holy service. In order to be consecrated, one had to belong to this household. If one were not a member of this household, he could not consecrate himself. Only the members of this household—the household of Aaron—were qualified to be priests, and only they could consecrate themselves.

Thank God, today we are the members of this household. Those who believe in the Lord are the members of this household. All who have been saved by grace are priests (And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. [Revelation 1:5-6]). God has chosen us to be the priests. Initially, only the members of Aaron’s household could consecrate themselves; if anyone else came near, he would have been put to death (Num. 18:7). We must remember that only those chosen by God to be priests can consecrate themselves. Thus, only the members of this household could consecrate themselves. Today God has chosen us to be the priests; therefore, we are the members of this household. Hence, we are qualified to consecrate ourselves.

Here we see that man does not consecrate himself because he has chosen God. Rather, God is the One who chooses and calls, and then man consecrates himself to Him. Those who consider that they are doing God a favor by forsaking all are but outsiders; they are not consecrated at all. We must realize that our service to God is not a favor or courtesy to God. It is not a matter of offering ourselves to God’s work, but a matter of God being gracious to us and giving us a portion of His work. It is God who has given us the glory and the beauty. The Bible tells us that the holy garment of the priest is for glory and beauty (Exo. 28:2). Consecration is God giving us glory and beauty; it is God calling us into His service. If we boast in anything at all, we must boast in our marvelous Lord. There is nothing marvelous for the Lord to have servants like us. The marvelous thing is for us to have such a Lord! We must see that consecration is the result of being chosen. Serving God is an honor to us. We are not uplifting God, as if we were sacrificing anything for Him or as if we had any glory in ourselves. Consecration is God giving us the glory. We should prostrate ourselves before Him and say, “Thank You that I can have a part in Your service. There are so many people in this world, yet I am chosen to have a part in it!” Consecration is our honor, not our sacrifice. It is true that we need to have the greatest sacrifice, but there is no sense of sacrifice in consecration. There is only the full sense of God’s glory.

IV. THE WAY OF CONSECRATION

Leviticus 8:14-28 speaks of a bull, two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread. The bull was for the sin offering; the first ram was for the burnt offering; and the second ram and the basket of unleavened bread were for the consecration offering.

A. The Sin Offering

In order to receive the holy service before God, that is, in order to consecrate oneself to God, the first thing that has to be taken care of is the propitiation for sin. Only a saved person, one who belongs to the Lord, can consecrate himself. The sin offering is the basis of consecration.

B. The Burnt Offering

Following this, we see two rams. We need to study Leviticus 8:18-28 carefully. One ram was for the burnt offering; it was to be burned. The other was for the offering of consecration; it enabled Aaron to serve God.

What is a burnt offering? A burnt offering is an offering which is burned completely. The priest could not eat the flesh of the burnt offering. All the flesh of the burnt offering was burned completely. The problem of our sin is settled by the sin offering, but the burnt offering makes us acceptable to God. The Lord Jesus bore our sins on the cross. This refers to His work as the sin offering. At the same time, while the Lord Jesus was on the cross, the veil was rent from top to bottom, bringing us into the Holy of Holies. This is His work as the burnt offering. The sin offering and the burnt offering start at the same place, but they arrive at different destinations. They start where the sinner is. The sin offering stops at the propitiation of sin, but the burnt offering brings the sinner further by making him acceptable to God. The burnt offering is the offering which makes a sinner acceptable in the Beloved. It goes further than the sin offering. The burnt offering is the sweet savor of the Lord Jesus before God that secures God’s acceptance of Him. Today when we offer Him to God, we are accepted by God as well. We are not only forgiven through the sin offering but also accepted through the Lord Jesus.

C. The Offering of Consecration

1. The Sprinkling of the Blood

After the first ram was slain, the second ram followed. What was done with the second ram after it was slain? The first thing that was done was the putting of blood upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron and his sons, upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the big toe of their right foot. This means that since God has accepted us in Christ, we should acknowledge the blood’s separation of our ears, hands, and feet fully unto God. We should declare that our ears, hands, and feet are fully God’s. Because of redemption, our ears, which were made for hearing, should now hear for God; our hands, which were made for working, should now work for God. Our legs, which were made for walking, should now walk for God. We apply the blood upon the tip of our right ear, the thumb of our right hand, and the big toe of our right foot. This means that our ears, hands, and feet have all been purchased by the Lord. We should say to the Lord, “Because of Your redemption, Lord, from this day forward, I will no longer consider my two ears to be my own, or my two hands and my two feet to be my own. Because You have redeemed me, Lord, my entire being will henceforth belong to You; it is no longer mine.”

Blood is the mark of possession. It is also the symbol of love. Both the “price” spoken of in 1 Corinthians 6 and the “love” spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5 refer to this blood. Because there is blood, love, and possession, our entire being is not our own. The Lord has shed His blood, and we must acknowledge the rightful claim of this blood upon us. Because the Lord loves us, we will confess that our entire being belongs to Him alone.

2. The Wave Offering

After the sprinkling of the blood, there was the wave offering. We must remember that when the second ram was slain, its blood was put on the ear, the thumb, and the toe. This is still not consecration. It is just the basis of consecration. The sprinkling of the blood is merely a confession of love and of right. It qualifies us for consecration, but the actual consecration comes after this.

After the second ram was slain and its blood was sprinkled, the fat and the right shoulder (right thigh) were taken, and out of the basket, an unleavened cake, a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer were also taken. All these things signify the two aspects of the Lord Jesus. The shoulder is the strong part, showing us the divine aspect of the Lord Jesus. Fat is rich, signifying the aspect of God’s glory. Bread is of the vegetable life, showing us His highest humanity. He is the perfect man, who is unleavened and unblemished. He is full of the anointing oil, being filled with the Holy Spirit. Like a wafer, His nature, the sentiments in His heart, and His spiritual insight are fine, tender, and fragile, being full of feeling and compassion. All of these things were placed in the hands of Aaron, who took them and waved them before the Lord. After this they were burned with the burning of the burnt offering. This is consecration.

Here we need some explanation. The Hebrew word consecration means “to have one’s hands filled.” Both Darby’s translation and Young’s concordance refer to this meaning. Initially the hands were empty, now they are filled. When Aaron’s hands were filled with so many things, he was filled with the Lord and there was consecration. When Aaron’s hands were empty, there was no consecration. When Aaron’s hands were filled and his hands could no longer hold anything except the Lord, there was consecration.

What then is consecration? God demanded that the household of Aaron serve Him as priests. But Aaron could not come presumptuously. First, his sins had to be taken care of, and then he had to be accepted in Christ. His hands (denoting work) had to be full of Christ. He had to have nothing but Christ. Only then was there consecration. What is consecration? Simply put, consecration is, as Paul said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. ” (Rom. 12:1).

Before the Lord, we need to see that in this life there is only one way for us to take, that is, serving God. We have no other way. Serving God is our only way. In order to serve God, we have to present our entire bodies to Him. From this day forward, our ears will listen for the Lord, our hands will work for the Lord, and our feet will run for the Lord. Our two ears will only listen to the Lord’s word, our two hands will only do the Lord’s work, and our two feet will only walk the way of the Lord. We are here only to serve God. We have consecrated ourselves as an offering, a sacrifice; we have consecrated our all to Him. Furthermore, our two hands will be filled with Christ; they will uplift Him and express Him. This is what consecration is all about. Only when we have done this, will God say, “This is consecration.” This saturation of Christ is what God calls consecration.

Consecration means that we have touched the Lord’s love and have recognized His right. For these reasons, we can come before God and beg for the privilege to serve. It is not just a matter of God’s calling us but of our offering ourselves to serve. We should say, “O God! I am Yours. I have been bought by You. In the past I was under Your table, hoping to eat a little of the fallen bread crumbs, but from this day forward, I want to serve You. Today I choose to serve You. I have been accepted in the Lord. May I also be granted a little portion in the great task of serving You? Be merciful to me so that I can have a part in Your service. In granting salvation to many, You did not pass me by or reject me; You saved me. Now give me a part among the many who serve You; do not reject me.”

This is how you present yourself to the Lord. Everything is for Christ and for Him alone. When you present yourself to Him in this way, you have consecration. This is what Romans 12 calls the presenting of our body. Romans 6 speaks of the consecration of the members. This is like the sprinkling of the blood on the ears, the hands, and the feet. Romans 12 speaks of the consecration of the whole body. It is the filling up of both hands with Christ. This links the Old Testament and the New Testament in a perfect way.

V. THE GOAL OF CONSECRATION

The goal of consecration is not to become a preacher for God or to work for Him. The goal of consecration is to serve Him. The result of consecration is service. In the original language the word service means “to wait upon.” This means that a person is prepared to serve. We must remember that the goal of consecration is to wait upon God. Waiting upon someone may not be strenuous work. To wait upon God means that you stand when He wants you to stand. If He wants to shuffle you aside, you allow Him to shuffle you aside, and if He wants you to run, you run. This is what it means to wait on Him.

God requires that all Christians offer up their bodies to wait on Him. This does not necessarily mean that He wants you to stand at the pulpit or evangelize some remote land. It means to wait on God. If God sends someone to the pulpit, that person has no choice but to speak. If God sends someone to remote lands, he has no choice but to go. All our time is for God, but the work that we do is flexible. Everyone should wait on God, but the specific work that one should engage in is flexible. We must learn to wait on God. The presenting of one’s body is for serving God.

As long as we are Christians, we have to serve God all our lives. As soon as a person consecrates himself, he must realize that from that point on, the Lord’s requirement comes first. Service to God becomes one’s lifelong mission. May God be gracious to us and show us that our service to Him is our rightful duty. We should show every believer that henceforth we are those who serve the Lord. We must realize that as Christians, we can no longer be loose in anything. I am not saying that we should not be faithful and committed to our career or that we can be idle. This is not what I mean. We still need to be faithful and serious in our vocation. But before God we must see that our entire life is directed towards our service to God. We do everything for the purpose of obeying God’s will and pleasing Him. This is the reality of consecration.

Consecration is not how much we can give to God. It is being accepted by God and being granted the honor of serving Him. Consecration is reserved for Christians alone; it is not for everyone. Only the saved ones, those who belong to the Lord, can consecrate themselves. Consecration means that we say, “Lord, You have given me the opportunity and the right to come before You and to serve You.” It is saying, “Lord, I am Yours. My ears were purchased by the blood; they belong to You. My hands were purchased by the blood; they belong to You. My feet were purchased by the blood; they belong to You. From now on I can no longer use them for myself.”

We do not beg others to consecrate themselves. Instead, we tell them that a way is now available for them to consecrate themselves. There is a way to serve our God, the Lord of hosts. We must be clear that we are here to serve the Lord of hosts. It is grossly wrong to think that consecration is a matter of granting God a favor.

The revelation in the Old Testament is very clear. A man can only consecrate himself to God under His approval. The New Testament also exhorts us to consecrate ourselves through the compassions of God. God loves us so much; therefore, we have to consecrate ourselves. This is the most reasonable service. This is not a request for favor; this is the most reasonable thing, the most natural thing, to do. Consecration does not depend upon our willingness. It is because of God’s abounding grace that we can consecrate ourselves. We must see that having the right to be God’s servant is the greatest honor of our life. It is a joyful thing for a man to be saved. It is a far more joyful thing for a man to have a part in God’s service! Who do we think our God is? We have to see His greatness and His glory. Only then will we see the tremendous significance and honor of this service! What a tremendous thing it is for us to receive His grace and be counted worthy of serving Him!

When we learn about consecration, it means that we won’t listen to “Why Should the Devil have All the Good Music” or any other type of entertainment that is not honoring to the Lord.  It means that our hands will not participate in any business, or other activity like drugs or alcohol or anything else that is not honoring to the Lord.  It means that our feet will not take us to places (use your imagination) that are not honoring to the Lord.  Our hands, our feet, our eyes, and every other part of our bodies no longer belong to us to to the Lord.  We are bound by the Love of Christ to this blessed position of being consecrated to serve only him and not any form of self gratification.

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Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration in the first lesson was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.

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