Chapter 8

Fear

The heavenlies, while the place of "every spiritual blessing" (1: 3), are, as well the place of most intense conflict. Let the believer, whose eyes have been opened to the comprehension of his throne rights in Christ, definitely accept his seat, and begin to exercise the spiritual authority which it confers upon hirn. He quickly realizes that he is a marked man. Whereas, in his previous ministry, he may have firmly believed in the presence and working of the powers of darkness, and often earnestly prayed against them, there conies now a new consciousness of their existence and imminence. Bitterly they resent and resist his entrance into their domain, and his interference with their workings. Implacable and malignant, they concentrate their hatred against him in an intense warfare, in' which there is no discharge. If attacks against his spirit are successfully resisted, assaults may come in mind, or body, or family, or circumstances.

The place of special privilege thus becomes a place of special danger. That there is no truth that encounters such opposition in its presentation is the testimony of those who have brought it forward by voice or pen. We have known of workers, who have taught these truths with acceptance, who have been quite overthrown in spirit or in body, and their ministry rendered useless. Yet, since God Himself, with an eternal purpose in view, has introduced His people into this sphere, we cannot doubt that full provision has been made for their safety.

The Panoply of God

The only place of safety is the occupation of the seat itself. It is "far above" the enemy. If the believer abides stedfastly by faith in this location, he cannot be touched. Consequently the enemy puts forth all his "wiles" to draw him down in spirit, for, once out of his seat, his authority is gone, and he is no longer dangerous, and, further, he is open to attack.

At this point is seen the meaning of the message of chapter 6. To maintain his place against the wiles of the devil, the believer must be constantly arrayed in full armor. The different parts of this armor symbolize certain spiritual attitudes which he must maintain. It is most important to understand that the armor itself when worn constitutes the protection of the believer, and not his activity against the foe. Fully harnessed, he is fully kept, and is unhampered in his ministry of authority. All that he need be concerned about is, like a good soldier, to keep his armor bright and well secured about him.

Let us note briefly the meaning of the various parts of the panoply: no item can be omitted. There is (1) "the girdle of truth," the clear understanding of God's Word, which, like a soldier's belt holds the rest of the armor in place. (2) "The breastplate of righteousness," not, as often stated, the righteousness of Christ, but rather the active obedience to the Word which he has received. (3) The "feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace," a faithful ministry in the heralding of the Word. (4) "The shield of faith" (thureos, the large door-shaped shield covering the whole body), which indicates his complete refuge under the blood of Calvary, where no power of the enemy can penetrate. (5) "The helmet of salvation" (called elsewhere "the hope of salvation," 1 Thes. 5: 8). It is a remarkable fact that the hope of salvation, the coming of the Lord Jesus, is the only helmet that seems able to protect the head in these days of apostasy from the truth. (6) "The sword of the Spirit," which shows the Word of God used in an active sense, even as the "girdle" shows it in a defensive one. (7) "All-prayer," the training of the faculties Godward by constant approach to God.

The emphasis in chapter 6 is laid on victory. Note the following paraphrase which brings out the full force of verse 13: "Wherefore take up with you to the battle the whole armor of God that you may be able to successfully withstand in the evil day, and having overthrown all foes, to remain unshaken." There is no suggestion of defeat. Secure within his armor, the believer may disregard the enemy, and give his entire attention to the exercise of the ministry to which he has been called.

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