... the STRONGHOLD of the New Man in Christ
THE SAME DAY the last issue of MASCHIL went to the printer, Glenda and I left for New York. As we drove, I meditated on what had gone into that article on light coming into the darkened dianoia. I thought about how the strongholds of the natural man listed in it work against our becoming new persons in Christ. I thought how each stronghold of darkness, if it remains, will hinder us in the time of trouble about which we are learning from Daniel.
Soon I began thinking how God’s Kingdom overcomes those strongholds of darkness. I wished what I was seeing could have gone into the article just published. I prayed others could read it with the same spirit of revelation that was coming upon me.
More clearly than ever, I saw how Christ is setting up in us new strongholds—strongholds sure to stand in the time of trouble. These are strongholds related to what Christ has accomplished for us and is ministering now to us. They are spiritual bastions with their foundations in the heavens, but with their buildings within our lives.
We’ve started our acquaintance with these strongholds.
But, the pressures of the end time will push us on into them so they become
realities in our lives and not words we write and read about. The strongholds
of God are powerful and full of wonder. Their full discovery will reach
into eternity, but, oh what fortresses the least acquaintance with them
offers us today!
HERE LATELY, we’ve been relating Ephesians truth to what we’re seeing in Daniel. The Prophet Daniel saw the day we are facing. Ephesians lays out our preparation for it.
For years I’ve been drawn to these two books, but only recently have I seen how intricately they fit together. Just taking note of some of the terms Daniel used to describe the people of God throws us to Ephesians to find these people.
In Daniel 7:18, 22, 25-27, the Prophet speaks of the saints of the most high. These are the ones who have been raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus about whom we learn in Ephesians 2:5,6.
In Daniel 8:24, the Prophet speaks of the mighty and holy people. These are the one for whom Paul is teaching us to pray in Ephesians 1:18,19 that they might know the exceeding greatness of God’s power. They are the ones who are holy and without blame about whom we learn in Ephesians 1:4.
In Daniel 11:32, the Prophet speaks of the people that do know their God. These are the ones for whom Paul is praying in Ephesians 1:17 that they might have the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, and in Ephesians 3:19 that they might be filled with all the fullness of God.
In Daniel 11:33, the Prophet speaks of those that understand among the people. These are the ones for whom Paul is praying in Ephesians 1:18 that the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened.
In Daniel 12:3, the Prophet speaks of they that be wise. These are the ones for whom Paul prays in Ephesians 1:17 that God will give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation.
In Daniel 12:7, the Prophet tells of the
holy people. Ephesians is all about these people. Indeed, it is THE
Book for the holy people. The Greek word for holy, hagios,
occurs in Ephesians 14 times. Two times it refers to the Holy Spirit;
twelve times to holy people! The word occurs in each chapter, usually
translated as saints, some times holy. It literally means
"the holy ones." See Ephesians 1:4, 15, 18; Ephesians 2:19, 21; Ephesians
3:5, 8, 18; Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 5:3, 27; and Ephesians 6:18.
NOW HERE is some thing else we need to see about Daniel and Ephesians. As Daniel used graphic terms to describe the people of God, he used no less graphic terms to describe the one who will oppose these people in the closing days. Paul in Ephesians described the spiritual forces working behind this arch-opposer, motivating him toward his goals and manipulating all the circumstances surrounding his movements.
All the terms Daniel used to describe this opposer have had their foreshadowing fulfillments in certain men through the ages. But, in every instance where a name of the evil worker is revealed, the full scope of the prophetic revelation about him reaches to the time of the end and describes the activities of a certain evil one, to be revealed in the last time. We generally call him the anti-Christ. Ephesians leads us to the time of the anti-Christ’s final activity, telling us of principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and wicked spirits, all of whose activity against the saints culminates in a time Paul calls the evil day in Ephesians 6:13. This is the time when the one of whom Daniel speaks bursts upon the scene in the greatest coup attempt ever, only to be put down by the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
By looking at the passages in Daniel revealing the names of the anti-Christ, we find what are his movements as he attempts to wipe out the people of God who stand between him and the eternal Throne.
In Daniel 7:25, plus numerous other verses throughout the chapter, we find him described as the little horn. As he blasphemes the most High, he sets his vengeance on the saints to wear them out. This shows the great need for the understanding and preparation Ephesians offers.
In Daniel 8:23,24, we find the anti-Christ described as a king of fierce countenance and understanding dark sentences. This means one of strong determination and skilled in manipulation of people. He will set out to destroy the mighty and holy people. Destroy is from a word in the Hebrew meaning "to corrupt, or pervert, one’s actions and ways." His design is to make the saints useless to the Kingdom of God.
In Daniel 9:26, we find mention of the people of the prince that shall come. There will be a company of people joined with the anti-Christ, called the prince that shall come. The same word prince is used to describe Christ in the preceding verse. This shows the length to which the antiChrist will go in his determination to usurp Christ’s throne. There will be a people caught in the spirit and determination of his goal. Their aim will be to destroy (corrupt, pervert, lay waste) the city and the sanctuary. This vile action is against the very government of God which is the city, and the temple of God, which is the sanctuary. We are that temple.
In Daniel 11:21, we find the anti-Christ called a vile person who will bring sword, flame, captivity and spoil against those who know God and who understand the ways of His Kingdom. But there is hope in all this. A people that do know their God withstand the vile person and carry on in a time when every system of the world turns against them. We learn of these overcoming people in Daniel 11:32 and 33.
The vile person, despicable and contemptible in all his ways, will set out to destroy the people of God because they are his final opposition in the taking of the government rightly belonging to Christ. For the church to neglect the above passages and the attendant understanding going with them is criminal negligence. It will leave hosts of believers so unprepared for the conflict of the last days that many will leave the faith, becoming apostates and lost to the eternal purposes of God.
The purpose of the Ephesians 4:11 ministries set by Christ in His body is to fully equip the saints to withstand in the evil day— Ephesians 6:13—and make them ready finally to stand with Christ in His Kingdom. While Daniel shows us the step by step movements of the vile person, Ephesians lays out for us the step by step movements of the people of God. The saints are the ones who come through triumphant.
From Daniel, we find why we need to be strong. From
Ephesians, we learn the source of our strength. In Daniel, we see the
anti-Christ moving toward the eternal Throne. In Ephesians, we see the
saints seated with Christ in this Throne.
WE WANT TO TAKE note now of two names by which Daniel called the end time people of God. They provide for us the striking theme of Ephesians. These names, as well as a description of what these people do, are in Daniel 11:32 and 33." . . .But THE PEOPLE THAT DO KNOW THEIR GOD shall be strong and do exploits. And THEY THAT UNDERSTAND AMONG THE PEOPLE shall instruct many... It is from Ephesians that we learn details about this knowing of Him. Here also we gain understanding as to who we are and where we are in Christ. He brings us into the presence of the Father.
Now let’s come back to the word know in Daniel 11:32. What a powerful word it is! It implies intimate acquaintance, with close communion and an abiding relationship. The New Testament has much to say about knowing God. We’re learning from Paul in Ephesians to pray regarding this very matter.
I want to look again with you at Ephesians 1:15-19. In effect, the Apostle said in these verses, "I’m praying for light to come into your inner man so you can know, instinctively and in a way that defies contradiction, three strongholds of life that will keep you in all the time of trouble and enable you to stand firm against every attack of the enemy. One, I want you to know for certain what it is God wants with your life. I want you to become established in the hope of His calling. Two, I want you to know for certain how valuable you are to God. I want you to get to know the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Three, I want you to know personally the powerful and far-reaching meaning of Christ’s resurrection. I want you to know the exceeding greatness of His power."
These three desires of Paul’s intercession work toward the settling of matters that will enable saints to arrive whole at the day of Christ, in the company of those that do know their God. The intention of the prayers is the setting up of strongholds the vile person can never corrupt. Their foundations are in a realm he cannot reach. They are guarded and safe— in Christ. If he wants to touch and corrupt believers in whom these strongholds are set up, he must knock on Christ’s door.
So, I’m asking you to look with me another time at this Ephesian passage. We place the verses here as they’ve unfolded to us from the Greek New Testament.
16 do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers,
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, might give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM (The word knowledge is from the Greek epiginosko meaning "full knowledge" or "acknowledgment." This is the whole object of the prayer.):
18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened (with a light that will not go out), that you may KNOW (from oida as it speaks of knowing with a distinct and certain finality, very close to absolute knowledge—an instinct that is deeper than acquired knowledge) WHAT is the hope (indeed, the certainty) of His calling (upon your lives), WHAT is the wealth of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (His glorious deposit He has placed within you that makes you exceedingly valuable to Him),
19 and WHAT is the exceeding greatness of His power (released through the resurrection of Christ) unto us who believe...
We note the three uses of WHAT in these verses.
Oh, we’ve looked at them so many times! But now we see them as they point
us to knowing God—THE STRONGHOLD of our lives for the final
days. In knowing Him, we have a stronghold of certainty, a stronghold
of wealth, and a stronghold of power. All this comes from knowing God—
intimately and warmly, securely and purely. It comes when we are brought
as sons into His household through Jesus Christ. Oh, what we have here!
AFTER WE KNOW God, we are set free to know ourselves in a new way. We’re learning, often out of the pain of human failure, that the only prospect of ourselves worth having is that view from the heavens laid out for us in Ephesians. There, we find how God views us. We don’t find weakness, failure and distress. We find the blessing of choice people, adopted into His household, accepted and approved. We find all this in Christ. We are blessed in Him, chosen in Him, adopted in Him, and accepted in Him. We have our redemption in Him and our inheritance is in Him. Our trust is in Him. We are sealed in Him. We learn this from the first half of Ephesians 1, that powerful passage that lays out for us where we are and who we are in Christ.
Now let’s go back and think about the first WHAT in Ephesians 1:18. It establishes with us the certainty of God’s calling upon us. When this is settled, everything else fits into place and we have a stronghold of confidence that will not wilt before the fire of the enemy.
Here is something we need to know. God’s first calling upon us is not to perform some act. It’s not to come into some dark place of the earth and preach His gospel. It’s not to live a holy life, or do some deed of kindness. His first call to us is to come to where He is—into the heavens. And, precious Father that He is, He provides the way for us to get there. It’s like He says, "Get in this vehicle I’ve provided you and come to where I am. I am calling you to Myself." The vehicle to Him is Christ. There’s no other way. Even a mother with a dozen children, so harried by life she can hardly face another day, can answer this call. A prisoner locked within a cell can answer it. A person confined to a sick bed, or the one attending, can answer this call. There is no circumstance in life that can hinder one answering this call, unless it be a circumstance arising out of unrepentance over sin.
God’s first calling upon us is simply, "Get into Christ and come to me." When we do that, we can stand. No force of the enemy can put us down.
Christ takes us to the bosom of God and introduces us to One He calls Father. It’s like He says, "Father, this is Ed. He’s come to you in Me to be your son." He says, "Ed, this is God. He’ll be your Father from now on." He says, "Father, You can trust Ed because he’s placed his trust in Me." He says, "Ed, you can trust your heavenly Father because He loves you."
For the calling of God, Jesus takes us into the bosom of the Father. This is the foundation of God’s calling. What a stronghold!
God may call us to India, or to Africa, or into the heart of a corrupt city. He may call us to preach, to teach, to evangelize, to scrub, to sweep, or to clean—or pray. It doesn’t matter. For before He calls us to do anything, He calls us to a place of BEING in Him.
Years ago I was impressed with what God said to Moses in Exodus 24:12—Come up into the mount and BE THERE."
Moses had responsibility like you wouldn’t believe—all those people who had come out of Egypt with him. And God said, "Leave them and come up unto Me. Just bring yourself. Be mine. Become taken up with me. Know me. You can trust me. I am a consuming fire, but I will not consume you because I am drawing you into union with Me for a revelation of Myself in the earth."
Out of that time of being with God came the greatest revelation He had ever given to man. He gave Moses a pattern from the heavens of the Tabernacle that would become His dwelling place in the earth. That pattern pointed on to Jesus—and to us.
There’s something in the spiritual background of Paul that corresponds to that time when God called Moses into the mount. We find it in Acts 13:1-3, the account of what happened in the Antioch church from which Paul was sent forth. I’ve poured over that passage and longed for what was there. There were Prophets and Teachers together. These are high callings of God the very names of which imply that they are ministries to people. But their calling at Antioch went beyond that—they ministered to the Lord. The same commission was upon them in Antioch that was upon Moses in the mount. The Lord had said to them, "Come, BE before me." This was the key that unlocked the door for the release of the Gospel to all the Gentile nations. In this setting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul...
It’s little wonder this Saul, who later was called Paul, became taken up with knowing and being. He had learned the discipline of it at Antioch. Before then, his first encounter with the gospel had been with the person of Jesus Christ, not a message about Him—Acts 9:5. The first word of ministry to him was that he should see that Just One—Acts 22:14. It was the knowing of this Person, not a message about Him, that motivated and kept Paul. From the point of his conversion, he grew in intimacy with Christ, finally learning that we are in Him. He preached this mystery in the Gentile world and wrote about it from the prison where he spent his final years. With nothing but a rented house, having lost all his rights as a free man, he taught those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ—Acts 28:31. His body was in chains. He was whipped, denied, deprived, and finally had the sword passed through his neck. But, they never touched the real man. He was in the heavens in Christ at the right hand of God.
When all the systems said, "You will not function,"
he functioned. That was because he knew God. Through Christ, he lived
in His presence. That can be our stronghold too.
WHEN WE LEARN to abide in Christ, God’s calling flows out into something we call "His will" for us. This is when we learn God wants something from us. He wants to stretch us forth like He would His hands and touch some one, or some thing, or some circumstance—some nation, some city, some village. We are called to become His extension, His expression, His instruments. But, we learn never to leave His bosom, never to leave our dwelling place in Him. We learn never to leave off knowing Him.
When God began calling Glenda and me to go overseas with practically no support, He said, "I’m calling you to the nations, but you need never leave home." Since then, we’ve gone from nation to nation, but we’ve never left home. Our home is in Him. That’s where He’s called us.
The highest calling upon any life—and it is a calling upon all of us—is the calling into the presence of God. Here we can stand in the time of trouble. From here, we can walk and work in anything God wants, because we’ve learned the secret of knowing Him.
Now, of course, we’re having to learn to walk in this. One of the greatest lessons we’ve been having to learn is that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves. Our sufficiency is of Him. We’re continually thrown back on this. There are some special times that stand out in our memories. They’re our own personal reminders that God is faithful and the resources of heaven are abundant.
I’ll never forget that morning I arrived at the border of one of the most troubled nations in all Africa. For a generation it had been ravaged by civil war and genocide. I had traveled all night with a little brother from that nation, on a bus that careened over and around more potholes than I could ever have imagined on a major road. While all the others slept, I watched out the front window as every vehicle approached, only to see it pass on the side opposite to which I was accustomed. I braced for each one, knowing we would hit head-on.
We arrived in the dark at a forsaken outpost where there was a border crossing. I was the only "European" around, not a little tired and bewildered. I was told we would have to wait till the guards opened the border at 6:00.
I had no worry, for I had my visa ready for entry into that country -- or so I thought. When we arrived finally in the dingy little immigration building and I handed my passport to the officer, I was not prepared for his refusal. He said, "This visa is not valid."
I thought it was. I had obtained it at an official office. But he explained to me they did not recognize that office. He gave a flat denial. I could not enter.
This meant I must wait there in that forsaken outpost all day, take another all night bus trip, go to the high commissioner’s office for another visa, and repeat my trip back to this point. Conclusively, there was no other way. He threw my passport on the table toward me and took up with other business.
I turned away and faced the wall of the little room. Suddenly, I knew I was not only in that room, I was in Christ in God’s presence. Before God called me to that nation, He called me into the heavens in Him. From that position—far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named—I remembered I could speak to the prince ruling that nation. I told him to remove his influence from this border official who was refusing my entrance. I told him this in the Name of Jesus.
No person on earth heard my declaration. No one in that room knew I was standing in Christ before the ruling principality of that nation. But instantly, I turned around only to have the same official pick up my passport, stamp my entry, and allow me to pass.
Now that was not astounding. The whole world could have gone without knowing about what I’ve just told. But, I tell it because there, in my human frustration and weariness, the Lord impressed on me the importance of my knowing my heavenly calling. In the day of evil, I’ll remember that.
We’ve walked in this now for years. On the trip from which I just returned into India, I saw again and again the powerful hand of the Lord reaching from the heavenlies to bring matters to pass that my mind could not imagine ahead of time.
One instance that simply showed me the tender hand of the Lord working in my behalf happened in Bombay. It was something extra the Lord did for me because, again, I was very weary and He wanted to help me. It was between twelve-thirty and one o’clock in the morning as we were preparing to board the nine and a half hour Pan Am flight to Frankfort, Germany, the first long part of my flight home. I had behind me the three weeks in Tamil Nadu, the long train ride from Paramakudy, the transfer from Madras to Bombay, and now was ready to take the next leg of the journey. Since the flight didn’t leave till 3:15 A.M., I thought I would be at the terminal early enough to avoid the crowd. Not so. It appeared I was the last passenger for that Boeing 747 to arrive! I said to myself, "This will just be a long wait."
I tried to gather my senses to find which line I should stand in. But, within a matter of seconds, an airline employee came to me, looked at my ticket and other papers, took me straight to the counter so that I had no wait. I soon was assigned my seat and was directed to a quiet waiting room with plush seats where an attendant served me a cup of hot coffee and a plate of cookies. I rested till they announced it was time to board the plane. I’d paid for the lowest fare available, but I was being treated like a very important person. After resting in that quiet room, an attendant said it was time to board the plane. Being confused as to the way I should go, a young man appeared who guided me to the gate. It was as though the Lord was saying to me, "Because you have obeyed me in coming to my people in India, I am blessing you with the ministry of some of my special angels."
I’ve continued finding when He puts forth His Own, He goes before them. This makes it so we never leave home. Our home is in Him.
Why am I telling all this? Only to say we’re finding
He’s so faithful in so many ways— small ways as well as big ways. He still
spreads tables in the wilderness and opens locked doors. We need to know
this as we approach the final days. Even now, it’s becoming a way of life
for many of us as we learn to abide in the heavenly calling—knowing God.
WE COULD GO ON telling much about the stronghold that arises within us when we learn how valuable we are to Him. We are His treasured possession to whom He has said, "A woman may forget her child, but I will not forget you. I have graven you upon the palms of My hands"—Isaiah 49:15,16.
And, there is the revelation of the stronghold having to do with His power. This one stretches into the eternities, for it has to do with the power of an endless life, ministered to us from within the veil by the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, even Jesus.
We can continue telling of these matters later, but let’s go back to Daniel and consider some things he said about knowing God and about being strengthened.
Daniel was about 89 years old when he received his last end-time vision. At the time of the visitation, he had been fasting twenty-one days. Upon this weak old man came the angel Gabriel in a startling visitation. Whatever strength remained in Daniel departed and he fell prostrate on the ground.
Then Gabriel said to him, Be strong.
In making a record of this visitation, Daniel used, about twelve times, the Hebrew word chazak meaning "be strong, firm, or powerful." Since he never used this word anywhere else in his writings, it takes our attention here. This word can relate to the force of an army, the might of a kingdom, the power of an enemy, or the strength that comes from God.
As we read Daniel’s account of this visitation, we gain some powerful insight into how human weakness makes way for divine strength.
16 And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.
17 For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.
18 Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man and he strengthened me.
19 And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.
Later in the vision, the heavenly messenger told Daniel about the final days when a vile person (11:21) will stand to oppose God and His Government. With every imaginable attack—sword, flame, captivity and spoil (11.33)—he will come against the people of God.
Then the heavenly messenger used that same word, chazak, to describe the people of God. He said, But the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits—Daniel 11:32.
This word can help those of us who have more of a tendency toward weakness than we have toward strength. The statement could be better translated: "The people that do know their God shall be strengthened." There is a difference between being "strong" and being "strengthened." Being strong is absolute. There is no recognition weakness has ever been present. Most of us can’t relate to this. On the other hand, being strengthened recognizes the weakness but sees it as a platform out of which strength can arise.
God told Paul, My strength is made perfect in weakness—II Corinthians 12:9. In effect, He said, "Your weakness be-comes the ground from which My strength can spring forth. Therefore, don’t despise your weakness; it makes room for My power in your life."
There’s something more we need to see about Daniel 11:32. We’ve quoted it from the King James Version where the word "exploits" is supplied by the translators. There’s no word in the original corresponding to it. It simply states, "The people that do know their God shall be strong and do."
Do what? Anything that involves the will of God. Everything necessary for life. Do is from a Hebrew word meaning to work, to labor, to carry on life, to function. There’s coming a day when every force of the enemy will say to believers, "Now, you can no longer function! God’s will must become a forgotten thing for you!"
But those of us that do know our God will continue with our work. We will carry on life. We will function when every force says we can no longer function.
We will do this by knowing God—intimately and
warmly, securely and purely.
HOW CAN these strongholds become realities in our lives?
Well, the pains of life are pushing some of us into them. Because we’ve set our goals and desires on the Lord Jesus Christ, every trial becomes like the blow of the hammer on the head of the nail. It serves that nail well. But, we all need help. Sometimes the blows are painful. That’s the reason we’re being drawn back, again and again, to Ephesians 1:15-19 where we’re learning to pray for one another. We’re also learning what to expect for ourselves.
Paul knew the necessity of these strongholds. He also knew his teaching and preaching alone could not fix them in the lives under his care. Therefore, he prayed and taught us to do the same--husbands for wives, wives for husbands, parents for children, children for parents, congregations for ministers, ministers for congregations, intercessors for world leaders, and so on. When prayer for others goes on—disciplined, without ceasing, and according to the Word of God—the Holy Spirit moves and souls move into KNOWING GOD.
Now, for thirty days of intercession on overcoming the carnal pull of the inner man we're going to let Jesus guide us as the Kingdom He brought so powerfully into the earth works its way into our inner man. May our way of thinking begin to reflect Who He is in us and who we are in Him. Thus, we can begin--in a practical and demonstrable way--to reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.
© Berean Ministries
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