... Ephesians Truth Working its way into
Our Darkened Understanding
THE FIRST TIME it ever occurred to me that Christians can have spiritual authority was on my first visit outside the United States. It was in 1958. I was teaching in New York when some men from Texas stopped by on their way to Canada and asked if I would go along with them. We would cross the border into Canada at Niagara Falls.
I was excited that I might see Niagara and that I could go into another nation, so I took the day off and went with them. As we crossed the bridge and went through the customs station, I was in awe at the wonder of the Falls and felt exhilarated visiting Canada. It was little different from the United States, but it was a wonderful trip for a farm boy from the state of Mississippi.
When we crossed the border, I heard one of the men say, "Evil prince ruling Ontario, in Jesus' Name, we take authority over you and forbid you to interfere in God's purpose for our being here." He was not speaking to any person. No one outside the car heard him—except, apparently, the spiritual force that ruled the province.
No one said anything further. We simply worshiped the Lord as we traveled on.
What I heard that day startled me. I had my degree from a Christian college, plus another from the third largest theological seminary in the world. I was teaching in one of the oldest Bible institutes in the United States, and was an avid student of the Scriptures. Yet I had never heard anyone speak like that. Neither did I know of any "evil prince" who ruled the Canadian Province of Ontario, nor was I aware of any place in the Bible that told about this kind of authority.
One thing I observed: our visit in Canada was led by the Holy Spirit and there was unusual harmony among us men. The incident was small, but the comprehension of Bible truth was not. I've since thought, The insight into the Word of God residing in that man could influence the life of every nation.
What he did was born from an understanding of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. This Epistle had claimed my attention for years, but it had never occurred to me to walk in the truth of it. Strange, how clear can be our understanding regarding some Bible truths while we overlook others. We usually accept teaching about past happenings and prophetic insight about future events, but our understanding of what is happening now is often vague. We are left with admonitions to change our lives, but with little power to do so. Denominational theology often confines us to an obscure, and sometimes unscriptural, understanding of the ways of the Lord. This had been the case with me.
But the man crossing the border with us was not vague. He knew who he was in Christ and he knew what authority this released in him. He was seated in the car with us, but he was also seated in heavenly places (Eph 2:6) with Christ. Christ was in him as we crossed into Canada but he was also *IN Christ (Eph 1:3) at the right hand of the Father. That brother was living out of the understanding he had gained from Ephesians.
Some of us learn slowly as we move into what God wants for us. There are always spiritual powers that oppose us. Too often we allow them to throw us around and dictate what happens to us. Paul called these opposing forces principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places Eph 6:12.
About twenty years after I first crossed the border at Niagara with the brother who spoke to the “evil prince, I found it necessary to cross the same border point again. And, I was pressed to speak to the same principality. The time had come for me to learn more fully how to deal with spirits that rule nations. Soon the Lord would cast my wife and me out among the nations. At every turn we would come against antagonizing spiritual forces.
This is what happened that second time at the Canadian border. We had driven from our home in California to minister in Ontario, Canada. A friend in the State of New York offered us some printing equipment which we wanted to take back to California to use in the printing ministry that was just getting underway. The equipment would fit in our van but it would be a tremendous load. I suggested to Glenda that she remain with friends in Ontario while I made the trip into New York to pick up the load. It would not increase our journey back to California for me to return through Ontario for her.
After picking up the printing equipment, I arrived back at the Canadian border about 12:30 Saturday night—heavy laden and weary. Innocently, I thought I could simply tell the customs officials where I was born and proceed on my journey. Not so.
They demanded to know what I was transporting and the value it held. Under no circumstance would they allow me to enter Canada without posting a bond of $3000.00. That meant laying down $300.00 nonrefundable—to a bonding company. They put me in touch with one that remained open around the clock. I did not have that amount of money. For two hours the customs officials detained me, even though I explained I was only entering Canada to pick up my wife and then proceed on back into the United States.
I did not know what to do. By 2:30 Sunday morning I was frustrated. I had not learned to always walk in the understanding born from Ephesians. Therefore, even as I served the Lord and moved in His will, I was still at the mercy of spiritual forces opposing me.
Then it occurred to me to speak to the principality of Ontario, the same one addressed years earlier on my first trip into Canada. For a brief moment, I walked away from the officials who remained adamant against my entering. Across the room from them I quietly said, “You evil prince ruling Ontario, I command you in Jesus’ Name to remove your influence from these men.”
No person heard me, only the prince.
I walked back toward the officials but said nothing. Then one of them said, “I don’t know why we are doing this, but we are going to allow you to pass through Ontario.” I simply had to sign a paper stating I would not leave any of my cargo in Canada.
I too had the same spiritual authority as the brother who crossed with us twenty years before. That authority was mine in Christ. Since then, we have learned never to approach any city, state, or nation without addressing the spiritual forces that rule there. We tell them we are entering their territory under the authority and protection of the Lord Jesus Christ and forbid them to interfere in our activity for Him while we are in their area. Sometimes we tell them Jesus is the Covenant Son of God and that He alone has the right to reign in their domain.
We still have much to learn because the forces that oppose us always work undercover. They remain hidden behind what seem to be adverse natural circumstances. They throw them in our way to hinder us as we seek to do God’s will.
Repeatedly we have found ourselves in stressful situations where our only hope has been to deal with the “evil prince.” But we are growing and we are seeing that the authority of Christ always comes through.
One morning Glenda and I sat in India’s Bombay International Airport. We had come from Nairobi, Kenya, and were on our way to Madras, South India. The airline in Kenya had not been able to confirm our flight from Bombay to Madras. The plane we should take was scheduled to leave at 7:00 AM but they could not give us a seat. Brothers in Madras would be at the airport to meet us. As is frequently the case in traveling, we were tired and without a solution to the problem facing us. After we spent all night in the airport without a promise of any help, I must say, we were to the point of irritation. About 5:00 AM I left Glenda reading and walked over to the area where passengers should get in line to board the flight. The area was already crowded with people. I felt hopeless. But as I stood in the back of the crowd, I was impressed to speak to the spiritual authority over the Indian Air lines. I did not yet know I could speak to spirits that rule corporations, but the Holy Spirit knew. So I did it, just as I had spoken to the Canadian prince.
Instantly, a man came behind the counter and opened another position for passengers. I paid little attention till he called for me to come. I presented my tickets and said nothing. He had two seats available.
We have found over and over that the authority of Christ goes before us whenever we move in the will of our Heavenly Father.
Ephesians Truth remains. We will find as the age draws on to its close that daily we must live out of the resources that are ours in Christ. This may be our only stability.
I began considering Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians nearly fifty years ago. It was the first Scripture I remember reading after I turned my life over to the Lord Jesus. It contains six chapters, marvelously put together by the Holy Spirit, with insights and revelations that only could have come from the heart of God.
After years of soaking my soul in the Epistle, and wearing out several Bibles in the process, I still stand in amazement at it. It is like a fountain with waters from such a depth and source they never cease to flow with newness of life. To me this is a proof of divine origin.
Ephesians stands near the summit of revealed truth for the church. To be without its understanding could lead to failure in the time of trouble about which we learn in Dan 12:1. This is the same as the great tribulation of which Jesus speaks in Matt 24:21-24. Paul called this time the evil day in Eph 6:13. Indeed, Ephesians brings us up to the evil day, and teaches us to stand while in it. If we receive its word, it will take us through this day.
Ephesians, like all the rest of the New Testament, found its way into the hands of ancient people in a language called Koiné Greek. “Koiné” (pronounced KOY-nay) means “shared by all, common to everyone.” Koiné Greek was the language common to people all over the Roman Empire in the first century. It was the language of everyday life. In it were written business contracts, bills, deeds, marriage contracts, wills, decrees, love letters, business correspondence—anything and everything that made up life at that time.
What a marvelous choice to place all the New Testament, the greatest document every written, in a language like this! This bears testimony that it was written to be read and that it relates to all of life.
In order for most of us to understand it today, however, it must be translated into our own common language with words and phrases we can understand. While it is important to find the exact word in another language to express the idea of each Greek word, there is a point we must make clear. It is far more important that the Word be translated into life. We might put it this way: The New Testament is to undergo one more translation, from the Word, written and seen, into the lives and affairs of us who see and hold it dear. This requires that we spend time with it as we allow the Holy Spirit to release its power and truth in us. This is the purpose for this series of studies. We want to bathe in the inspired Word of Ephesians till it fills all the rooms of our lives.
We trust the handling of the Word, as we shall do in this series of studies, will help to translate it into your life. A brief outline of the Epistle will help us keep a right perspective as we proceed with our study.
A book by Watchman Nee lays out the basic outline of Ephesians with three words—Sit, Walk, Stand. These three well summarize the three sections of the Epistle. We have no hesitancy in making use of them again.
Sit covers Eph 1:1 through 3:21. This passage makes a clear statement about our position in the heavenlies. We are seated with Christ. Thus, we use the word “sit.” We call the understanding we gain from this section “positional truth.” It establishes this with us: When we have been saved by God’s grace, through Christ Jesus, we are brought—positionally—into the heavenlies to be seated with Christ. We learn from Ephesians that He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He is enthroned in the heavens. He is King. He is far above all principality, power, might, and dominion. He is above every name that is named—Eph 1:21.
The first chapter of Ephesians closes with a prayer that we might come to understand how we are with Christ in His triumph. Our heavenly Father regards us in Him. He sees us enthroned with Him. He sees us reigning with Him. He sees us IN Him—complete. If He so views us, we can begin doing the same.
Eph 2:4-6 states very clearly the truth of our position in Christ. It actually gives a summary of much Paul is saying in this first section of the Epistle.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, •hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And •hath raised us up together, and •made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Look at the words mercy, love, and grace. They reveal what causes God to save us. Now look at the other phrases underlined. They tell us exactly what His mercy, love and grace has caused Him to do for us. The first and second statement tell what happens when He saves us. The third statement, in verse 6, tells where we are in Christ. This is a statement of Positional Truth. From this point—of being seated with Christ in the heavenlies—we must not move, but rather build upon it.
For a clearer study, we can break down this first section of Ephesians as follows:
•1:1-14—This is the first high statement of positional truth where the key word is in Christ, 1:3.
•1:15-23—Here is Paul’s apostolic Prayer that believers might have a full knowledge of their position in Christ. A key phrase is the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, 1:18.
•2:1-22—This is a further statement of positional truth. Here we see that the Gospel Paul preached is to spread till it includes you who were far off—2:13.
•3:1-13—Here Paul reveals his commission to make known the mystery of Christ among the nations.
•3:14-21—This is another apostolic prayer for those who come to Christ from among the nations.
WALK is the key word for the middle part of the Epistle. Eph 4:1 through 6:9 lays out the walk our position demands—and which grace makes possible—after we realize who we are and where we are in Christ. If we do not know our position in Him, the requirements laid out in these chapters become little more than words with unattainable ideals. When we do know what has happened to us and where we are in Him, they become possibilities—attainable and real.
Here is a brief, but valuable, outline.
•In Eph 4:1-16 we learn of a walk in unity. These verses contain powerful instruction as we work toward unity in the Body of Christ. The key words are in 4:1—Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.
•In Eph 4:17-32 we learn of our walk as a new man. This walk we maintain primarily as we have relationship with the people of the world. A key verse says, Walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind—4:17.
•In Eph 5:1,2 we learn of a walk in love. It is to be maintained primarily among ourselves as believers. A key verse is 5:2 which says, Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us.
•In Eph 5:3-14 we learn of a walk in light. This again speaks primarily of a walk to be maintained in relation to the people of the world. A key verse is 5:8 which says, Walk as children of light.
•In Eph 5:15 through 6:9 we learn about a circumspect walk. This is a walk to be maintained within our own family relationships and with those with whom we live and work. A key verse is 5:15 which says, Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.
If we attempt to carry out the walk and do not know what has happened to us and where we are in Christ, we will come to frustration and disappointment. And, if we try to arrive at a position in the heavenlies with Christ simply by maintaining the good walk, we will come to failure. We cannot be seated with Christ in the heavenlies by our own accomplishments, no matter how good.
We must follow God’s order. First we are seated then we walk.
Stand is our final word. Eph 6:10-24 tells of our conflict with spiritual forces who oppose both us and the Kingdom of Christ within us. It is here we learn amazing details of our stand before the enemy. Some of the most significant and important words in all the Bible are here. A key verse is Eph. 6:13. 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.
It is here we learn of the divisions and ranks among the forces of Satan that oppose us. They work against us to knock us out of our position with Christ in the heavenlies. They plot against us to make our walk weak and ineffective. They withstand us as we take our stand against them for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on earth.
Eph 6:12 lists the evil forces against which we stand. Note the terms we emphasize. Each is significant. In Christ we learn to withstand them all. 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.
A review of the whole Epistle will help us keep our perspective right. First, Eph 1:1—3:21 makes a clear statement about out position in Christ. We come into it by grace, through faith. Second, Eph 4:1—6:9 lays out the walk this position demands, and that grace makes possible. After these two matters are settled, Eph 6:10-24 lays out the strategy for our warfare with the enemy, into which we enter on the basis of our position and our walk.
If we are not sure of our relationship and standing with Christ, then Satan will take advantage of our ignorance and attack us. If the way we live is inconsistent with who we are and where we are in Christ, then he will attack us because of our weakened faith and guilt. It we know our place in Christ, and if our lives are in line with His Kingdom, then we can withstand the evil one and all the hierarchy of spirits that work under him.
For a month let Ephesians be your daily food. Take the outline we have laid out in this article and mark it in your Bible. Let the Word of the Epistle lay hold on you.
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