The10CommandmentsMy Ten Commandments When Sinned Against

by Pastor Jack Hyles

(Chapter 15 from Dr. Hyle’s excellent book, How to Treat Different Types of Church members)

I refuse to allow the existence of my happiness to depend upon the actions of others. I will allow the degree of my happiness to depend on the actions of others. I will not allow myself to be unhappy or to lose my joy because of the behavior of someone else. I will allow myself to have joy and happiness only because of conditions within my ability to determine. If my joy is dependent upon your treatment of me, I can have joy only when you decide for me to have joy. If my joy is dependent upon my treatment of you, then I may have that joy any time I choose. If my joy is dependent upon my relationship with God, then I may have joy when I choose to do so. If my joy is dependent upon my service for others, then I may have that joy any time I choose to serve others. So the presence of my joy must not be dependent upon the actions of others and their behavior toward me. However, the degree of that joy may be so determined. In other words, I will not let you make me happy, but I will let you make me happier.

Even in church life the carnal sometimes prevails over the spiritual, and Christians sin against each other. The purpose of this chapter is to give instruction to the one who is sinned against. For years I have had what I call, “My Ten Commandments When Sinned Against.” These are ten things that I do when I find that someone has sinned against me.

Before entering the discussion of these ten commandments, we must make it clear that there is no selfish purpose or motive involved in these actions and reactions. The one supreme motive is TO RESTORE THE ONE WHO HAS SINNED AGAINST ME. I must look upon him as I would look upon any Christian who has committed any other sin. I must be grieved because it has strained his relationship with God. I must not allow my grief to exist because I have been wounded or offended. The truth is, if I love the Word of God and the God of the Word as I should, there is no way that I can be offended. Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

As we enter into these ten commandments, we will always keep before us that our purpose is to restore the offender. If you have sinned against me, I want you to have the joy that has been taken from you because of your offense. My purpose is to help you and, by God’s grace, to help you be restored!

COMMANDMENT 1
I will have forgiveness in readiness before you sin against me. Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” I will always keep a reservoir of forgiveness so that it can be used immediately when sinned against. I will not allow myself the indulgence of the time that often transpires between being sinned against and offering forgiveness. That forgiveness will always be available and in abundant readiness immediately when the sin against me has been committed.

COMMANDMENT 2
I will not impute your sin to you. Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Notice here that I am to forgive those who offend me just exactly as God forgives those who offend Him. God not only forgives our sins, but He also justifies us. In other words, God keeps in readiness “justified forgiveness,” which means that God does not charge us with the sin. He does not record it against us. When a Christian is saved, he is justified by the faith which is placed in Christ. Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If, therefore, I forgive you as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me, I must not only forgive you, but I must not charge you with the offense. In my mind, you never sinned against me. I call that “justified forgiveness.” Not only do I forgive you for what you’ve done, but I do not record what you have done. I do not think of you as one forgiven, but I think of you as one who has not sinned at all.

COMMANDMENT 3
I will grieve for you, but not for what you have done to me. I will not grieve because I have an enemy; I will grieve because you are an enemy I will not grieve because I have been sinned against; I will grieve because you have sinned. I want you to have a good relationship with Christ. I want you to have peace. I want you to have fullness of joy, and you can have none of these when being offensive, so my grief is not for the wounded but for the wounder. My grief is not for the criticized but for the critic. My grief is not for myself, though I certainly want your love. My grief is for you because I want the best for you, and you cannot have the best when you have sinned against another.

COMMANDMENT 4
I will do all that I can to help you remedy your situation. I will not retaliate. I will not be critical of you. I will not even share with others what you have done against me. My entire course of action will be that of seeking your restoration. I want you restored to fellowship with Christ. I want your joy restored, your peace restored and your happiness restored, so nothing that I do in the following commandments will be done to try to hurt you but to help you. I will not want for your hurt unless God chooses that method to bring you back to Himself. I will want the best for you and will do all that I can for that best to come your way.

COMMANDMENT 5
I will ask God to let me suffer for you. I Corinthians 6:6-8, “But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.” Not only will my forgiveness be justified forgiveness, but it will be vicarious forgiveness. I will ask God to punish me instead of you if that can best serve to bring about your restoration. I must not forget that the entire purpose of these commandments is for you to be restored, and I must do all I can to bring that restoration about. Isn’t that the way that Jesus cared for our sins? He bore the suffering for us vicariously Do not forget that I am to forgive as God forgives, so if God took upon Himself the suffering for our sins, even so I must take upon myself the suffering for your sins if God will but let me do so. I have forgiven you. I have offered you with that forgiveness a justified forgiveness, and now I offer to you a vicarious forgiveness.

Certainly by now I want you to be restored. However, if you are not yet restored, I must continue to do what I can to help you find the peace you once had and the joy you once knew in Christ. If at any time while I am obeying these ten commandments, you are restored, then the use of the balance of the commandments will not be necessary. However, if having had forgiveness in readiness for you, having offered you justified forgiveness, having grieved for you, having decided to do all that I can to remedy your situation and having offered you a vicarious forgiveness with a willingness to suffer your penalty, I find that you are not yet restored, I must proceed to the next commandment.

COMMANDMENT 6
I will turn you over to God for justice. Romans 12:17-20, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not forget that this justice that I seek for you from God is for your restoration.

Far too often I have heard this passage explained in a way to describe the Christian as one who wants his offender to be hurt and that God is certainly a better executor of this hurt than we can be. So it is taught that if you really want to hurt somebody, let God do it, and even blessing those that curse us is supposedly done in an effort to heap coals of fire upon his head. What a tragic teaching! How sad it is for us to teach God’s people to be good to somebody because it will make them feel bad, to love somebody because it will make them hurt. God teaches no such thing! We must never forget that the purpose for all of this is for restoration. We are not trying to see to it that someone gets punished for his sin unless that punishment will help to restore him.

We simply treat him with love. If he hates us, we love him. If he despises us, we pray for him. If he does ill to us, we do good to him and turn him over to the Lord for justice, hoping that that justice will lead him to restoration. We would rather that he not suffer at all, but if God chooses to use the tool of suffering to bring him back to joy, peace and restoration, we will be happy for that, but we will never be happy because he suffers. We are pleased only if that suffering leads to restoration. All of this must be remedial.

The word “vengeance” here has to do with justice, and the justice has to do with chastening, and the chastening we hope and trust will lead to repentance, and repentance will lead to a restoration of fellowship with God, and a restoration of that fellowship will lead the offender to regain his joy and peace.

Why should we want to use the same tactics he used? Why should we borrow Satan’s weapons to punish those who have punished us? Do not forget! The purpose of these ten commandments is restoration. If forgiving immediately brings it about, Commandment I is all that is necessary. If that fails, we will offer justified forgiveness and let our offender know that we are not charging the sin to him at all. Then we will attempt restoration by grieving for him and then doing all we can to remedy his situation, and then by asking God to let us suffer for him, and when all of those commandments have failed, we then turn him over to the Lord so God may use justice upon him in order that that justice may lead him back to his original fellowship and relationship with his God. If our brother is still not restored, we go to the next commandment.

COMMANDMENT 7
I will turn you over to the Lord for chastening. Hebrews 12:10-12, “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” In other words, I will ask God to chasten you, but I must remember through it all that I am not wanting you to be hurt. I am wanting you to be restored, and if asking God to chasten you leads to this restoration, I will be pleased to do so. I will not enjoy your suffering or your pain any more than a loving parent enjoys the suffering of the child he is spanking, but I will wish for it if it will lead to your restoration. Of course, the word “chastening” implies training or educating. God does not punish His children for sin. His measures of inflicting pain upon us are not vindictive. They are punitive and corrective and done in love. The loving parent has in mind training his child, improving his child, educating his child, and in doing this, oftentimes must use the inflicting of pain. Never forget, the purpose is remedial!

I would much prefer that my forgiveness in itself would bring you to restoration. I would love for my justifying you as if you had never sinned against me to accomplish this. I would hope that a long time before we get to Commandment 7, you have been restored to fellowship with your God and have received once again the sweet peace and joy that comes with that fellowship, and only for your restoration to that place will I want you to be chastened.

As has been implied, God does not punish Christians; He chastens them. Now it may look the same way and it may, as a fact, be the same action. God may do exactly the same thing to a saved man that He does to an unsaved man, but to the unsaved it is punishment; to the saved man it is chastening. He chastens those whom He loves. To the one who is not His child, He may inflict punishment for sin, and though He may use that same act upon the Christian, it will not be punishment; it will be chastening. It will be done for training, for educating and for restoring His child to Himself

Certainly we trust that by now the one who has sinned against us has been restored, but if not, there is another commandment.

COMMANDMENT 8
I will turn you over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. I Corinthians 5:1-5, “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Notice especially the first part of verse 5, “to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh,” but don’t stop there. Notice the rest of the verse, “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” It is folly for us to think that we are to say, “I tried to hurt him, and God tried to hurt him; now Devil, you hurt him.” This is contrary to the whole spirit of the Bible. It is contrary to the attitude of God toward His children. God is not talking here about a judgmental deliverance of the sinner to the executioner. God is simply saying He will exhaust every measure in order to restore the offender to Himself.

Another error that is taught concerning this subject is that this means we are to turn someone over to the Devil and say, “Devil, kill him!” That is not taught here. Notice that the destruction is of the flesh, the destruction of the carnality, the destruction of the methods that caused him to sin. God oftentimes will let the Devil use his weapons on us, but even then the purpose is for our restoration. I do not come with a vindictive spirit in a hateful manner and almost with delight saying to the Devil, “You can have him. Kill him.”

Turn to I Timothy 1:19-20, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck. Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Now notice especially verse 20 where the Apostle says, “whom I have delivered unto Satan, THAT THEY MAY LEARN not to blaspheme.” What is the purpose of turning one over to Satan? THAT HE MAY LEARN. This is the same as the chastening in Commandment 7. Even in this action we are seeking restoration. This one, like all the commandments above, is for the good of the offender that he might be led to know once again the peace and joy he knew before he sinned against me. Even in turning him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, I am still interested in corrective measures, or as John Calvin said concerning this truth, “for medicinal purposes.” This is just another medicine that I will use in an effort for your spirit to be healed.

COMMANDMENT 9
I will bless you, do good to you, pray for you and love you. Matthew 5:43, 44, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Romans 12:20, 21, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” I will not combat hatred with hatred, but I will combat hatred with love. I will not combat cursing with cursing, but I will combat cursing with blessing. I will not combat spite with spite, but I will combat spite with prayer, hoping still that the weapons of love, blessing, prayer and kindness will lead to your restoration because I love you. I loved you before you sinned against me. I love you more now because you need me more. You need my love more, my blessings more, my prayer more.

COMMANDMENT 10
I will not socialize with you. I Corinthians 5:9-11, “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” II Thessalonians 3:14, “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”

Perhaps you are saying, “Now you are showing some hatred at last. You finally came to a commandment that is vindictive!” No, quite to the contrary. Even this commandment is remedial and medicinal as a last resort. I will not socialize with you, hoping that you will miss my fellowship. Of course, I am commanded in the Scriptures above not to socialize with you, but even this is an effort for you to be restored. I trust that you will miss my fellowship and that my withdrawal from socializing with you will lead to your restoration.

This does not mean that I will not be nice to you. I will speak to you, I will help you, I will bless you, I will pray for you, I will be kind to you, I will be gracious to you, I will feed you if you are hungry, I will clothe you if you are cold. I will do anything I can for you, but I will not socialize with you because I am commanded not to do so and because again I am using a tool that I trust and pray unto God will restore you to fellowship with God and to your relationship with Him that brought you peace and joy, and as a blessed by-product, restore you to myself.

In conclusion, if you are my enemy and if you have sinned against me, I love you and I want you restored. The commandments that I have listed above are simply different medicines in the apothecary that I trust will heal your wounded spirit and bring you back to your God and to me, your friend. Perhaps these medicines taste progressively worse, and I certainly trust that before the more drastic ones are needed, you will be restored. I do not want you to suffer. I do not want you to hurt, but far above that, I want you restored to your God and to your joy. If therefore, a little suffering and a little pain will be remedial and medicinal, I will want it for you, not so you can hurt, but so the joy of fellowship you once knew can be yours, because you see, my dear enemy, I love you!

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.)

DELIVERANCE

Scripture Reading: Rom. 7:15—8:2

“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”  (Romans 7:15-25)

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  (Romans 8:1-2)

It is possible for a person to be free from sin immediately after he has believed in the Lord. However, this may not be the common experience of all believers. After believing in the Lord, many people fall back into sin instead of being freed from sin. It is true that they are saved. They belong to the Lord and possess eternal life. However, they are still troubled by sin and are unable to serve the Lord as they wish.

It is a very painful experience for a person to be continually troubled by sin after he has believed in the Lord. A person who has been enlightened by God has a sensitive conscience. He is sensitive toward sin and has a life that condemns sin. However, he may still be bothered by sin. This results in much frustration and even discouragement. It is indeed a very painful experience.

Many Christians try to overcome sin. Some think that if they try hard enough to renounce sin, they will eventually be free from sin. As a result, they try their best to reject the temptations of sin. Some realize that sin should be overcome, and they continually wrestle with sin in the hope of overcoming it. Others think that sin has made them a captive and that they must strive hard to free themselves from its bondage. However, all these are man’s thoughts; they are not God’s word or teaching. None of these methods lead to victory. God’s Word does not tell us to struggle with sin by our own efforts. It says that we should be delivered from sin, that is, be released or freed from sin. Sin is a power which enslaves man. The way to deal with this power is not by destroying it ourselves but by allowing the Lord to free us from it. We have sin, and there is no way to separate ourselves from it. The Lord’s way is not to vanquish sin. He is saving us from sin’s power by moving us away from it. New believers should know from the start the right way to be delivered from sin. There is no need to travel a long and tortuous path to find deliverance from sin. We can take the way of freedom as soon as we believe. Now let us try to deal with this matter according to Romans 7 and 8.

I. SIN BEING A LAW

Romans 7:15-25 says, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

In verses 15 through 20, Paul repeatedly uses the word will and the phrase do not will. The emphasis is on willing or not willing, resolving or not resolving. In verses 21 to 25, there is another emphasis on the law. These two things are the keys to this passage of the Word.

First, we need to understand the term law. The common understanding of a law is that it is something that remains the same all the time, something that allows no exceptions. Moreover, there is power in a law. This power is a natural power, not an artificial power. All laws have power. For example, gravity is a law. If you throw something up, it will eventually fall back to the ground. You do not have to pull the object down with your hands; the earth has a force that pulls it down for you. If you throw a stone up, it will fall. If you throw an iron up, it also will fall. If you throw something up in China, it will fall. If you throw the same thing up in other countries, it will fall. An object in the air will fall the same today and tomorrow. Any object in the air, as long as nothing is holding it, will fall regardless of time and space. A law remains the same all the time and allows no exceptions. It is a natural force which requires no human effort for its perpetuation.

Romans 7 shows us that Paul was trying to be victorious. He was trying to free himself from sin. He wanted to please God. He did not want to sin or to fail. However, he eventually admitted that his resolutions were all futile. He said, “for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”  He did not want to sin, yet he sinned. He wanted to do good and walk according to God’s law, yet he could not do it. In other words, what he willed he could not do, and what he resolved to do, he was unable to accomplish. Paul willed again and again, but the result was only repeated failure. This shows us that the way to victory lies not in the human will or human resolution. Paul willed and resolved again and again, but he still failed and sinned. Obviously, to will is present, but to work out the good is not. The best that a man can do is make resolutions.

The willing is present but not the good, because sin is a law. Following verse 21 Paul showed us that he remained defeated even after he made numerous resolutions. This is because sin is a law. This law of sin was present with him every time he resolved to do good. He was subject to the law of God in his heart, but his flesh yielded to the law of sin. Whenever he willed to obey God’s law, a different law rose up in his members, subjecting him to the law of sin.

Paul was the first person in the Bible to point out that sin is a law. This was a very important discovery! It is a pity that many who have been Christians for years still do not realize that sin is a law. Many people know that gravity is a law and thermal expansion of objects is another law. But they do not know that sin is a law. Paul did not know this at first. After sinning repeatedly, not voluntarily but involuntarily by a potent force in his body, Paul discovered that sin is a law.

Our history of failure tells us that whenever temptations come, we try to resist them. But we are never successful in this resistance. When temptations come again, we again try to resist them, only to end up in another defeat. This experience repeats itself ten times, a hundred times, or a thousand times, and we still find ourselves defeated. This is the story of our failure. We fail again and again. This is not something that happens by chance; it is a law. If a person committed only one sin in a lifetime, he could consider sin as something incidental. However, those who have sinned a hundred or a thousand times will say that sin is a law; it is something that continually drives them on.

II. MAN’S WILL BEING UNABLE
TO OVERCOME THE LAW OF SIN

Paul failed because he exercised his will to make resolutions. After verse 21, Paul’s eyes were opened. He saw that the enemy he was dealing with—sin—was nothing less than a law. When he saw that sin was a law, he could only sigh and say, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” He realized that it was impossible for him to prevail over sin by his will.

What is the will? The will is man’s own volition. It is what man wants, determines, and decides to do. It is man’s opinions and judgments. Once a man’s will resolves to do something, he begins to carry it out. Man’s will can produce some power. Therefore, there is power in the will.

But herein lies the problem. When the will comes in conflict with the law of sin, which one prevails? The will usually prevails at the beginning, but ultimately sin prevails. Suppose you hold up a book that weighs one catty [a Chinese measure of weight] with your hand. Gravity is pulling it down while you are trying your best to hold it up. But the unceasing operation of the law of gravity will eventually prevail, and the book will fall to the floor. You may try to hold it up with your hand. You may prevail for an hour, but after two hours you will feel tired, and after another hour your hand will no longer obey you. Eventually, you will let go of it. Gravity never tires out, but your hand does. The law of gravity is pulling the book down continuously, every hour, every minute, and even every second. Your hand cannot fight against the law of gravity forever. The longer you hold the book, the heavier it feels. The book has not become heavier, but the law of gravity has triumphed over the power of your hand, and you feel as if the book has become heavier and heavier. The same principle applies when you try to overcome sin with your will. The will can stand against sin for a while. But the power of sin far exceeds the power of the will. Sin is a law; it is not destroyed by the resistance of man’s will. Whenever the power of the will slackens, the law of sin surfaces. The human will cannot persist forever, but the law of sin is always active. The will may prevail for a little while, but in the end it will always be overcome by the law of sin.

Before we see that sin is a law, we keep trying to overcome it by our own will. When temptation comes, we hold our breath and try to overcome, only to find that it has overcome us instead. When temptation comes again, we make a stronger resolution because we think that our last failure was caused by a faulty resolution. We tell ourselves that we will not sin this time and that we will overcome. But the result is the same—we fail again. We do not know why our resolution cannot bring us victory over sin. We do not realize that overcoming sin by the will never works.

It is easy to see that temper is a sin. When someone says something unkind, you feel hurt and upset. If he continues to speak unpleasant words, you may hit your desk, blow up, exchange words, or do anything. Afterwards, you may feel that as a Christian you should not have lost your temper, and you may resolve to control your temper the next time. You pray and believe that God has forgiven you. You confess your sin to others, and your heart is once again filled with joy. You think that you will never lose your temper again. But a little later, you hear more unkind words and become upset once again. When these words come to you the second time, you begin to murmur within. By the third time, your temper explodes. Afterwards, you realize that you were wrong again, and you ask the Lord for forgiveness, promising Him that you will never lose your temper again. But the same thing happens the next time you hear unkind words; after a while, your temper flares up again. You exercise your will again and again, only to find that you fail again and again. This proves that sin is not an accidental mistake; it is not something that happens only once. It is something that happens repeatedly, something that haunts you all your life. Those who lie continue to lie, and those who lose their temper continue to lose their temper. This is a law; no human power can overcome it. Paul did not learn this lesson at first, so he exercised his will repeatedly to no avail. It is impossible for man to try to overcome the law of sin by his will.

Once the Lord grants you mercy and shows you that sin is a law, you will not be far from victory. If you continue to think that sin is an occasional act and that victory can be secured through additional prayers and struggles against temptations, you are far from victory. Paul’s story shows us that sin is a law. The power of sin is strong; our own power is weak. The power of sin always prevails, while our own power always fails. As soon as Paul realized that sin is a law, he knew that none of his methods would work. His determination was useless; he would never overcome the law of sin by his will. This was a great discovery, a great revelation to him.

Paul saw that a man cannot experience deliverance by the exercise of the will. As long as a man trusts in the power of his own will, he will not turn to God’s way of deliverance. The day will come when you will prostrate yourself before God and acknowledge that you can do nothing and henceforth will do nothing. That will be the day you find deliverance. Only then will you understand Romans 8. Brothers and sisters, please do not belittle Romans 7. We must first have the knowledge of chapter seven before we can have the experience of chapter eight. The problem is not whether you understand the doctrine in Romans 8 but whether or not you have emerged from Romans 7. Many have buried themselves in Romans 7; they are still trying to deal with sin by their will. The result is nothing but failure. If you have not seen that sin is a law and that your will can never overcome this law, you are trapped in Romans 7; you will never arrive at Romans 8. Our newly saved brothers and sisters must accept God’s Word as it is written. If you try to find your own way out, you will end up with nothing but sin. You will sin again and again, and your eyes will continue to be veiled. You will remain in your blindness. Your eyes need to be opened to see that all your willing and struggling is in vain.

Since sin is a law and the will cannot overcome this law, what is the way of victory?

III. THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
FREEING US FROM THE LAW OF SIN

Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is now then no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.” The way to victory is to be freed from the law of sin and of death. This verse does not say, “The Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from sin and death.” (I am afraid that many Christians think this way.) Rather, it says, “The law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.” Many Christians see the Spirit of life setting them free from only sin and death. They do not see the law of the Spirit of life freeing them from the law of sin and of death. It takes many years for some Christians to realize that sin and death are a law in them and that the Holy Spirit is another law in them. When the Lord opens their eyes, they will see that sin and death are a law and that the Holy Spirit is a law as well. The realization of the Holy Spirit as a law is a great discovery. When we realize that the life-giving Spirit is a law, we will jump up and exclaim, “Thank God, Hallelujah!” Man’s will cannot overcome the law of sin, but the law of the Spirit of life has freed us from the law of sin and of death. Only the law of the Spirit of life can free man from the law of sin.

Once we realize that sin is a law, we will no longer try to do anything by our will. When God grants us mercy to see that the Holy Spirit is a law, we will experience a great change. Many people only see the Spirit of life giving us life. They do not see that the Holy Spirit is another law in us, and that we can be freed spontaneously from the law of sin and of death when we trust in this law. There is no effort involved for this law to deliver us from the other law. We do not need to will, to do anything, or to hold on to the Holy Spirit. We do not need to be that busy when the Lord’s Spirit is in us. If we fear that the Lord’s Spirit will not work in us unless we rush in to help Him in times of temptation, we have not seen the Spirit as a law within us yet. May we see that the Holy Spirit is a spontaneous law within us. The way of deliverance from sin is not through the exercise of the will. If we exercise our will, we will end up in failure. God has given us another law which spontaneously frees us from the law of sin and of death. The problem of one law can only be resolved by another law.

There is no effort involved when we try to overcome one law with another law. We have mentioned before that gravity is a law. It pulls every object down to the ground. But helium is a gas which is lighter than air. If we seal it in a tight balloon, the balloon will rise up. It will rise spontaneously; there is no need to fan it or support it by any force. As soon as we let go, the balloon will rise. The rising is a law, and we do not need to do anything about it. In the same way, no effort is involved when we deal with the law of sin and of death by the law of the Spirit of life.

Suppose someone scolds you or strikes you without cause. It is possible for you to overcome the situation even without realizing what has happened. After the whole thing is over, you may wonder how you did not get angry when you were scolded. You should have been very angry at the other person’s word. But surprisingly you overcame the situation without even realizing it! Indeed, all victories are unconscious victories because the law of the Holy Spirit is operating and upholding us, not our own will. This kind of spontaneous victory is genuine victory. Once you experience this, you will realize that only the indwelling Spirit can keep you from sin; you do not have to will not to sin. It is also the indwelling Holy Spirit who is enabling you to overcome; you do not have to will to overcome. Since this law dwells in you, you are delivered from the law of sin and of death. You are in Christ Jesus, and the law of the Spirit of life is in you. Spontaneously, you are free. As long as you do not rely on your own will and effort, the Holy Spirit will bring you into victory.

Hence, victory over sin has nothing to do with our effort. We did not exert any effort when the law of sin directed us to sin. Similarly, we do not need to exert any effort in order for the law of the Holy Spirit to free us from sin. Genuine victory is one that requires no effort on our part. There is nothing for us to do. We can lift up our eyes and say to the Lord, “All is well.” Our past failures were the result of a law and today’s victories are also a result of a law. The former law is powerful, but the present law is more powerful. The former law is indeed potent in bringing us to sin, but the present law is more absolute in saving us from condemnation. When the law of the Spirit of life is expressed through us, its power is far greater than that of the law of sin and of death.

If we see this, we will truly be freed from sin. The Bible does not say that we can overcome sin with our will. It speaks only of freedom from sin: “The law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.” The law of the life-giving Spirit has pulled us out of the realm of the law of sin and of death. The law of sin and of death is still present, but the one on whom it worked is no longer there.

(Note – Remember the illustration in the first lesson with the two circles, one black on the left and the gold on the right?  In this lesson the LAW OF SIN AND DEATH is in the circle on the left and the LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS is in the circle on the right.  You who are saved are no longer in the world but IN CHRIST, and because of that you have the victory.)

Every saved person should be clear about the way to deliverance. First, we must see that sin is a law in us. If we do not see this, we cannot go on. Second, we need to see that the will cannot overcome the law of sin. Third, we need to see that the Holy Spirit is a law, and this law frees us from the law of sin.

The sooner a new believer realizes this way of deliverance, the better it is. In fact, no one needs to wait for many years before seeing the way of deliverance. You do not need to suffer many hardships before experiencing freedom. Many brothers and sisters have wasted their time unnecessarily; they have shed many tears of defeat. If you want to experience less pain and tears, you should realize from the start that the way to deliverance lies in these words: “The law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus.” This law is so perfect and powerful that it will save you to the uttermost; there is no need to do anything to help it. This law frees you from sin completely, sanctifies you wholly, and fills you with life spontaneously.

Brothers and sisters, do not think that the Holy Spirit within us only expresses His life through us occasionally. If we think this way, it proves that we only know the Spirit; we do not know the law of the Spirit. The law of the Spirit expresses His life continuously. It remains the same at all times and in all places. We do not have to tell this law to behave in a certain way; it behaves the way it does without our guidance. Once the Lord opens our eyes, we will see that the treasure within is not just the Holy Spirit or a life, but a law as well. Then we will be released, and the problem of sin will be over.

May God open our eyes to see this way of deliverance. May He open our eyes to see this secret to victory, and may we have a good start on this straight path.

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The very first book I ever read by Watchman Nee was called “The Normal Christian Life.”  It deals with this very issue and it completely changed my life and that of my wife who read it while we were dating.  It was the truths of deliverance that brought us together spiritually and eventually we were married because our marriage was based upon the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.  If you ever bought a book that would change your life it is this.  You should go to a Christian book store and ask them for THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE by Watchman Nee.


EARLY RISING

Scripture Reading: S.S. 7:12; Psa. 57:8-9; 63:1; 78:34; 90:14; 108:2-3; Exo. 16:21

Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves. (Song of Solomon 7:12)

Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.  (Psalms 57:8-9)

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;  (Psalms 63:1)

When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.  (Psalms 78:34)

O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.  (Psalms 90:14)

Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. (Psalms 108:2-3)

And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. (Exodus 16:21)

 

 

I. EARLY MORNING BEING THE BEST TIME OF THE DAY

What time should believers rise up every day?

A sister once put it well when she said, “How much a person loves the Lord can be judged primarily by the way he chooses between his bed and the Lord. Do you love your bed or the Lord more? If you love your bed more, you sleep a little longer. If you love the Lord more, you rise up a little earlier.” She spoke these words more than thirty years ago. Yet they are still fresh to us today. A man must choose between his love for his bed and his love for the Lord. The more he loves the Lord, the more he will rise up early.

A Christian should rise up early because the early morning is the best time to meet the Lord. Except for those who are sick, all the brothers and sisters should rise up early. Actually, many sicknesses are not sicknesses at all. They become sicknesses because men love themselves too much. Other than those who are advised to rest by doctors, everyone should rise early. We do not want to go to extremes; we advise sick brothers and sisters to sleep more. However, the healthy ones should get up as early as possible. The best time to meet the Lord, to contact Him, and to fellowship with Him is early in the morning. Manna is gathered before the sun rises (Exo. 16:14-21, “And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.”). Anyone who wants to eat God’s food should rise up early. When the sun waxes hot, manna melts and is gone. If we want to receive spiritual nourishment and spiritual edification, and if we want to have spiritual fellowship and spiritual supply, we need to rise up early. If we rise up late, the manna will be gone. The early morning is the very time when God dispenses His spiritual food and holy fellowship to His children. Whoever is late will not gather anything. Many children of God lead a sick life, not because they have spiritual problems, but because they rise up too late. Many children of God have no lack in consecration, zeal, or love, but they cannot live a normal Christian life because they rise up too late. Do not think that this is a small matter. Do not think that this has nothing to do with spirituality; it has much to do with spirituality. Many people are not spiritual because they rise up too late. Many people have been Christians for years, yet they fail to live a proper Christian life because they rise up too late. We do not know of anyone who knows how to pray, yet rises up late. Nor do we know of anyone who has intimate fellowship with God, yet rises up late. All those who know God rise up early. They rise up early as a rule to fellowship with Him.

Proverbs 26:14 says, “As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.” Here it says that a slothful person in bed is like a door that turns upon its hinges. The slothful keeps turning upon his bed; he cannot leave it. He turns to one side on his bed. Then he turns to the other side on his bed. Whichever way he turns, he is still on the bed. Many people cannot part with their bed. They love their bed as they turn from one side to the other. When they turn left, they are on their bed. When they turn right, they are still on their bed. They love to sleep and cannot part with their bed. Many people just want to sleep a little longer; they cannot get out of their bed. If one wants to learn to serve God and be a good Christian, he has to rise up early in the morning every day.

Those who rise up early in the morning reap much spiritual benefit. Their prayers at other times of the day cannot be compared with their prayers in the early morning. Their Bible reading at other times of the day cannot be compared with their reading in the early morning. Their fellowship with the Lord at other times cannot be compared with their fellowship in the early morning. The early morning is the best time of the day. We should spend the best time of the day—the early morning—before the Lord, rather than in other things. Some Christians spend the whole day on other matters and kneel down to read the Bible and pray only at night when they are about to go to sleep. No wonder they are ineffective in their Bible reading, their prayer, and their fellowship with the Lord. They wake up too late in the morning. The moment we believe in the Lord, we should set apart the early morning for fellowshipping with God and for contacting Him.

II. EXAMPLES OF EARLY RISING

In the Bible we find God’s servants rising up early in the morning. Let us consider their examples:

  1. Abraham—Gen. 19:27; 21:14; 22:3
  2. Jacob—Gen. 28:18
  3. Moses—Exo. 8:20; 9:13; 24:4; 34:4
  4. Joshua—Josh. 3:1; 6:12; 7:16; 8:10
  5. Gideon—Judg. 6:38
  6. Hannah—1 Sam. 1:19
  7. Samuel—1 Sam. 15:12
  8. David—1 Sam. 17:20
  9. Job—Job 1:5
  10. Mary—Luke 24:22; Mark 16:9; John 20:1
  11. The apostles—Acts 5:21

These many verses tell us that God’s servants had the habit of dealing with God early in the morning. Every one of them had the habit of waking early in the morning and fellowshipping with God early in the morning. They rose up early in the morning to do many things related to God’s business. They also rose up early in the morning to consecrate themselves. Although there is no commandment in the Bible that tells us to get up early, there are sufficient examples in the Bible to show us that all faithful servants of God rise up early. Even the Lord Jesus Himself rose up early. He rose up very early in the morning, while it was still night, and went away to a deserted place to pray (Mark 1:35). When He wanted to appoint the twelve apostles, He called them to Himself early in the morning (Luke 6:13). If the Lord had to rise up early to do these things, how much more do we need to rise up early?

Any brother or sister who wants to follow the Lord must never think that there is little difference in rising up an hour early. You must realize that your Bible reading becomes ineffective if you rise up an hour late. Likewise, your prayer becomes ineffective if you rise up an hour late. Although one may spend the same amount of time in reading the Bible, an hour’s difference will produce very different results. Early rising brings in great blessing. We hope that you will not miss the blessing of early rising at the start of your Christian life. One brother was asked at least fifty times during his first three years as a Christian, “What time did you get up this morning?” Early rising is a great blessing. Those who have learned to rise up early know the significance of it. If you do not rise up early in the morning, you will live in spiritual poverty. Late rising brings in much loss. Many spiritual things are lost through late rising.

We have seen many examples from the Bible. How about the servants of God who are not mentioned in the Bible, like George Müller, John Wesley, and many other famous servants of God? They also rose up early in the morning. We can say that almost all the ones we know of or have read about from books, who are of any use in God’s hands, pay attention to the matter of rising early. They call this early rising “morning watch.” All servants of God emphasize morning watch. The term morning watch itself tells us that it is done early in the morning. Have you heard of anyone who keeps watch when the sun is already up? Never! One keeps morning watch early in the morning. This is a good habit, and we Christians should cultivate this habit. God’s children should not be sloppy people. The church has been practicing this for years. We should maintain this good habit of meeting God early in the morning. The term morning watch is not found in the Bible. We can give it another name, but no matter what name we give to it, meeting God early in the morning is a very crucial matter.

III. WHAT TO DO IN THE EARLY MORNING

We do not merely rise up early. There must be spiritual exercise and spiritual content to what we do. Here are a few things to do early in the morning:

A. Fellowship with God

Song of Songs 7:12 shows us that the early morning is the best time to fellowship with the Lord. To fellowship means to open up our spirit and our mind to God and allow Him to enlighten us, speak to us, impress us, and touch us (Psa. 119:105, 147). During this time our hearts are drawn near to God, and we allow God to draw near to our hearts. We should rise up early in the morning to tarry before the Lord, to meditate, to receive leading and impressions from God, to learn to touch Him, and to give Him an opportunity to speak to us.

B. Praise and Sing

There must be the sound of praise and singing in the early morning. The early morning is the best time to sing praises to God. When we offer our highest praise to God, our spirit rises to the highest peak.

C. Read the Bible

The early morning is the time for us to gather the manna (which is Christ). What does it mean to eat the manna? It means to enjoy Christ, to enjoy God’s Word, and to enjoy His truth early in the morning every day. After we eat the manna, we have the strength to journey in the wilderness. The early morning is the time to gather the manna. One will not be fed spiritually or be satisfied if he spends his early morning on other things.

We have mentioned already that we should have two Bibles, one with marks and notes in it to use in the afternoon and the other with nothing in it for “eating manna” early in the morning. In the early morning, do not read too much and do not take many portions of the Word. Instead, read a single portion of the Bible carefully, always mingling your reading with unceasing communion with God and singing. This does not mean that you should fellowship with God first, praise second, and then read the Bible last. You have to blend all these things together. At the same time you should also pray. Come to God’s presence and open His Word. As you read, you may be convicted to confess your sins. As you read certain portions, you may be touched by His grace to offer up thanksgiving. You can also pray to God concerning what you have read in the Word. You can say, “Lord, this is truly what I need. This portion, this verse, this word, truly exposes my lack. Lord, fill up this lack of mine.” When you find a promise, you can say, “Lord, I believe in this promise.” When you find grace, you can say, “Lord, I take this grace.” You can also intercede. While you are reading, you may remember the condition of those who fall short of what this portion says. You should not accuse or criticize them. Instead, you should pray, “God, fulfill this word in me. Fulfill this word also in my brother and sister.” You can confess your sins and the sins of others. You can pray for yourself and for others. You can believe for yourself and for others. You can give thanks for yourself and for others. Your Bible reading in the morning should not be too long; it should not cover too much. Two, three, four, or five verses are sufficient. You can dwell on them for an hour. As you read these verses word by word, pray over them, and commune with God through them, you will be filled.

Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, there were people who fellowshipped with God this way. They knew God and communed with God. Their fellowship with God became part of their lives.

In Psalms David interchanged the pronouns you and He freely. At one moment he would be speaking to man, and at the next moment he would be praying to God. In the same psalm, he would say a few sentences to man and then say something to God. On the one hand, David spoke to man. On the other hand, he spoke to God. The Psalms show us that David was a person who was in constant fellowship with God.

While Nehemiah was working, he would speak a few words and then offer a short prayer. When the king asked him something, he would speak to the king first and then to the Lord. He mingled his work and prayer together. He did not separate his work from his prayer.

Paul wrote the book of Romans to those in Rome. However, more than once he turned his speaking to the Lord. A few times he seemed to have forgotten the fact that he was writing to the Romans. It seemed as if he were talking to God. We can find frequent examples like this in Paul’s Epistles. In an instant he could turn around and speak to God.

Those who have read the autobiography of Madame Guyon will notice one characteristic of hers. Most autobiographies are written for man. But in Madame Guyon’s autobiography, she spoke to man in one instant and to God in the next instant. In one moment she would be speaking to LaCombe (who asked her to write her autobiography), and at the next moment she would be speaking to God. This is fellowship. One does not know where fellowship with God begins and where it ends. Fellowship does not mean to set aside other affairs to pray. Nor does it mean to pray first and then deal with the affairs. It is to do both simultaneously.

Hence, during this early morning hour of gathering manna, you should learn to mingle prayer with God’s Word. You should learn to mingle praise and fellowship with God’s Word. One moment you may be on earth, but the next moment you are in the heavens. One moment you may be in yourself, but the next moment you are in God. If you maintain this practice before God every morning, you will be filled after some time, and God’s word will dwell in you richly. Such reading of God’s Word, such gathering of manna, is indispensable to us. Many brothers and sisters are weak and unable to take the wilderness journey. We need to ask them, “Have you eaten anything?” They cannot walk because they have not eaten enough. Manna is gathered in the early morning. This is why we need to rise up a little earlier. We will not have any manna if we are late. We have to rise up early in the morning to labor in God’s Word.

D. Pray

In the early morning we should fellowship, praise, and gather the manna. We must also pray to the Lord. Psalms 63:1 [KJV] and 78:34 [KJV] both say that we should seek the Lord early. The prayer spoken of in the previous paragraph is a kind of blending prayer. But the prayer we are talking about here is more specific. After one fellowships, praises, and eats manna, he has strength and can present everything in prayer before God. Prayer surely requires much strength. One must first draw near to God early in the morning and be fed. Then he can set aside about half an hour or a quarter of an hour to pray for a few urgent things. He can pray for himself, for the church, or for the world. Of course, he can pray also in the afternoon or at night. But if he takes advantage of the fresh power he has gained, the power acquired in the early morning through fellowshipping with God and eating manna, he will receive greater support.

Every believer should do these four things conscientiously before the Lord early in the morning: fellowship with Him, praise Him, read the Bible, and pray to Him. Whether or not a person has done these four things in the morning is manifested in his walk during the day. George Müller confessed that the degree to which he was fed by the Lord in the morning determined his spiritual condition throughout the whole day. His spiritual condition for the day depended on his feeding before the Lord in the morning. Many Christians find themselves weak during the day because their mornings are ill spent. Of course, there are those who are so far ahead in their spiritual journey that they can experience the total separation of the spirit from the soul. Their outward man is broken, and they are not that easily shaken by anything. However, this is another matter altogether. New believers should learn to rise up early. Once they become loose in this, they become loose in everything, and everything will go wrong. There is a great difference between being nourished and not being nourished in the morning.

A very famous musician once said, “If I skip practicing for one day, I will notice it. If I skip practicing for two days, my friends will notice it. If I skip practicing for three days, my audience will notice it.” If this is true for practicing music, it is even more true for the spiritual lesson of rising up early. If we fail to have a good morning watch before God, we will know it. Those who are experienced in the Lord also will know it when they come into contact with us. They will know that we have not touched the spiritual source. From the very first day, new believers should strictly discipline themselves. Every morning they should rise up early to exercise this way before the Lord.

IV. THE PRACTICE OF EARLY RISING

Finally, we should speak a little about actual ways to implement this practice. How can we rise up early? We need to pay attention to a few things.

All early risers must have the habit of going to bed early. No one can stay up late and rise up early. This is like burning a candle at both ends.

Do not set too high a standard for rising. Some people want to rise up at three or four o’clock in the morning. When they find out that they cannot make it, they quit after a few days. It is better to take a moderate course. Five or six o’clock is a suitable time to get up. Get up when the sun is about to rise or has just risen. Always get up around sunrise. If one tries to get up too early, his practice may not last long. An unreasonably high standard will only result in a condemned conscience. Some people have set too high a standard for themselves. They get into problems with their family or their work. When they take hospitality at the homes of others, they get into problems with their hosts. This is not a profitable thing to do. Our standard should be reasonable. We do not advocate extremes. Do not set too high a standard for yourself. Before the Lord you should consider carefully the proper time for you to rise up. You should take into consideration your physical limitations as well as the environment. Set your standard accordingly and keep it.

You may face a little difficulty at the beginning. It is always easy the first and second day. But the third day is difficult. You will find it easy for the first few days. But after a few days, you will love the bed so much that you will not want to get up at all. This is especially true in winter. It takes a long time for us to build up a new habit. Perhaps you are used to getting up late, and your mind has been used to getting up late. But if you rise up early a few times, your mind will gradually adjust to getting up early. After you do this for a few days, you will not want to go back to sleep even if your mind is telling you to do so. In the beginning you will need to force yourself a little in order to rise up early. Before a habit is built up, you need to ask God for grace. Continue to ask until this habit is built up. Try to do this again and again. Give up your bed daily to rise up early. In the end you will rise up early spontaneously. You must build up this habit before God. You must not miss the grace of fellowship early in the morning.

A healthy person does not need more than eight hours of sleep. Do not think that you are an exception. Do not worry that early rising will affect your health. It may be your anxiety which is affecting your health. Many people love themselves too much and worry themselves to sickness. You may need ten or twelve hours of sleep if the doctor says that you are ill. But six to eight hours of sleep are sufficient for a normal person. However, do not go to the extreme. Maintain at least six to eight hours of sleep. We do not expect those who are sick to rise up early. If you are sick, it is all right for you to lie on your bed in the morning and read your Bible there. However, those who are not advised by doctors to stay in bed and who are not really sick should rise up early in the morning.

We hope those who are mature and weighty in the Lord will uphold this practice. The church should push the sluggard ones to go forward. They should be shaken up a little. We should usher the new believers into this great blessing. You should take every chance to ask the new ones, “What time do you get up every day?” After a few days, you have to ask them again, “What time did you get up this morning?” This kind of reminding should go on for at least a year into a person’s initial Christian life. After a year, you may still need to ask, “Brother, what time do you rise up now?” Ask the new believers whenever you see them. You need to go to them and render them some help in this matter. However, if we have not learned the lesson well before the Lord, it will be hard for us to do this to others. This is why we must first learn this lesson well ourselves.

Early rising should be a believer’s first habit among all habits. Giving thanks before meals is a habit. Meeting together on the Lord’s Day is also a habit. Rising up early is even more an essential habit. A new believer needs to build up this habit. It is unfortunate that some have been Christians for years and yet have never enjoyed the blessing of early rising. They have never enjoyed the grace of early rising. If we want to experience this grace, we have to learn this lesson well. If more brothers and sisters will come together to learn this lesson, and if everyone will rise up early in the morning, the church will grow. When one brother receives more light, the whole church will receive more shining. When everyone receives a little more light each day, the church as a whole will become richer. The church is poor today because too few people are receiving their supply from the Head. If everyone receives something from the Head, however little it may seem to be, the culmination of all the little portions will make the whole very rich.

We do not wish to see only a minority of people working in the church. We hope to see all the members rising up before the Lord. We hope to see the whole church rising up to receive God’s riches and grace. What one member receives from the Head becomes the profit of the whole Body. If every brother and sister takes this way, there will be many containers before God, and we will be richer and richer as the days go by. We hope that you will not consider early rising as a small matter. If we all learn to rise up early, and if we all maintain this habit, we will have a bright spiritual future ahead of us.

Over 30 years ago I read these lessons and put them to practice in my life.  This lesson was special to me.  I would go to work at 5:00AM and while waiting for the construction crew to arrive, I had my “morning watch” praying and singing unto the Lord.  It was a few years later when I was praying early in the morning that I was inspired to write this poem which became a song:

IN THE MORNING

In the morning, that’s when I meet my Savior

And then I His wondrous presence know.

In the morning I tell Him all my problems.

That’s when I to God’s own throne room go.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.

 

In the morning He shows me all His mercy

And forgives my sins from day to day.

In the morning He understands my heartaches

As I seek to walk with Him each day.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.

 

In the morning He fills my cup with blessings

And His love melts all my fears away.

In the morning we walk and talk together

As he listens to all that I say.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.

 

In the morning I sing to Him His praises

That have caused this sad heart now to sing.

In the morning my heart is broken often

As I   think how few lost souls I bring.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.

 

In the morning I hear Him whisper gently

That in time He’ll show me all His will.

In the morning that’s when He shows me simply

How “that day” His will I can fulfill.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.

 

In the morning He opens wide my vision

Of a world that’s dying now in sin.

In the morning He makes me want to tell them

How that they can have real peace in Him.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.  (Hear this song on the front page)

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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 was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.

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