Isn’t it good to know that the Christian life can be summarised in three words?
In his book, “Sit, Walk, Stand”, the late Watchman Nee, a Chinese church leader and teacher, reveals an interesting way of summarising the book of Ephesians. A mere 78 pages, it is a small book with a big message. Simple but profound, it provides fresh insights to believers, both young and old.
While the verb ‘sit’ is passive, ‘walk’ and ‘stand’ connote active participation.
What does ‘sit’ mean, spiritually speaking? When we ‘sit’, we rest in what Christ accomplished for us; we need not do anything.
He chose us before the foundation of the world and predestined us to be His children (Ephesians 1: 4-5).
While we were dead in sin, He saved us and made us sit with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-6)
“Most Christians make the mistake of trying to walk in order to be able to sit, but that is a reversal of the true order. Our natural reason says, ‘If we do not walk, how can we ever reach the goal? What can we attain without effort? How can we ever get anywhere if we do not move? But Christianity is a queer business! If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing; if we seek to attain something, we miss everything. For Christianity begins not with the big DO, but with the big DONE. Thus Ephesians opens with the statement that God has ‘blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ (1:3) and we are invited at the very outset to sit down and enjoy what God has done for us; not to set out to try and attain it for ourselves” (Watchman Nee, “Sit, Walk Stand”, Pg 2).
What does ‘walk’ mean, spiritually speaking? When we ‘walk’, we are living out our faith in practical terms.
Since we have been translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (Ephesians 2:1-2):
- We should live our lives in a manner worthy of our high calling (Ephesians 4:1).
- We are to walk in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us (Ephesians 5: 2).
- We have to be careful concerning how we walk, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. And we must not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:15-17).
Though it is important to ‘walk’—work out our faith—Nee cautions against doing it in our own strength:
“The all-important rule is not to ‘try’ but to ‘trust,’ not to depend upon our own strength but upon his… Too many of us are caught acting as Christians. The life of many Christians today is largely a pretense. They live a ‘spiritual’ life, talk a ‘spiritual’ language, adopt ‘spiritual’ attitudes, but they are doing the whole thing themselves” (pg.38-9).
Thirdly, we need to ‘stand’ because we are soldiers of Christ engaged in spiritual warfare. We need to be alert, vigilant and prepared always.
- “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
- “Armies march into other countries to occupy and subdue. God has not told us to do this. We are not to march but to stand. The word ‘stand’ implies that the ground disputed by the enemy is really God’s, and therefore ours. We need not struggle to gain a foothold on it” (pg. 54).
- “Today we do not fight for victory; we fight from victory. When you fight to get the victory, then you have lost the battle at the outset” (pg. 55).
- “Because victory is His, therefore it is ours” (pg. 56).
- “If we believe the Lord, we shall not pray so much but rather we shall praise him more. The simpler and clearer our faith in him, the less we shall pray in such situations and the more we shall praise” (pg. 57).
From the above, we can see how important it is to have a proper balance in our Christian life. We need all these three steps in our faith walk—and they must be in the correct sequence as well.
Firstly, we have to sit before we can walk. To sit is to rest in the finished work of Christ at the cross and enjoy all the benefits that come with it: forgiveness, peace with God, direct access to Him, assurance of His presence always in all circumstances and eternal life.
After understanding what it means to SIT, we then proceed to live our lives in a manner worthy of our calling—we begin to WALK. ***
Secondly, we cannot just sit, and not walk, as liberal teachers would have us think.
Liberal theology emphasises what we get to enjoy based on our position in Christ but downplays personal responsibility. Indeed, the wind of doctrine now blowing across some churches is that accountability is a dirty word, good works border on legalism and ‘works righteousness’, there is nothing more believers need to do because it is ‘all by God’s grace’ and that once we are justified in Christ, we have already “arrived”, without any need for sanctification.
Though we may be made righteous in Christ, a process called justification, we also need to be progressively conformed to the image of Christ, a part of our Christian life termed sanctification. Confusion and muddled thinking result when we lump together two different processes: Justification, which is through faith and faith alone. And sanctification which is a life-long process whereby we die to self, submit ourselves to God, renew our minds and work out our faith with fear and trembling.
Thirdly, we have to sit and walk before we can stand. We have to rest in the finished work of Christ, who defeated Satan at the cross, as well as walk in truth and righteousness before we can make a stand against the evil one.
- Christ “disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross” (Colossians 2:15).
- Christ came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
- “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14).
The best summary of the book is the one that Nee provides at the end of the book:
“The Christian life consists of sitting with Christ, walking by him and standing in him. We begin our spiritual life by resting in the finished work of the Lord Jesus. That rest is the source of our strength for a consistent and unfaltering walk in the world. And at the end of a grueling warfare with the hosts of darkness we are found standing with him at last in triumphant possession of the field” (pg.78).
To conclude, the Christian faith should be seen as both passive (“sitting”) and active (“walking” and “standing”).
To SIT is to know our position in Christ and rest in His finished work.
To WALK is to live a life pleasing to God, realising that we have been redeemed and blessed.
To STAND is to actively engage in spiritual battle against the evil one.
FAITH: ACTIVE, NOT PASSIVE
“It would not be difficult to point out at least twenty-five or thirty distinct passages in the Epistles where believers are plainly taught to use active personal exertion, and are addressed as responsible for doing energetically what Christ would have them do, and are not told to “yield themselves” up as passive agents and sit still, but to arise and work. A holy violence, a conflict, a warfare, a fight, a soldier’s life, a wrestling, are spoken of as characteristic of the true Christian.”
― Dr Michael L. Brown
OUR FAITH WALK ***
How do we walk in a manner befitting our high calling?
In the second part of Ephesians (chapters 4-6), Paul stresses that, in view of our blessed position or standing in Christ, we need to respond by leading a life worthy of the high calling to which we have been called:
We must be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Having varied and distinctive gifts, we should work together to build up the body of Christ till all attain unity and maturity.
We need to put off the old nature and put on the new nature—no longer be like the unregenerate who continue to live in sin as their minds are darkened and their hearts are hardened.
Let our anger be short-lived and let our words be positive and edifying. Bitterness and slander should be put away.
Thieves should stop stealing and engage themselves in honest jobs.
We should be kind and forgiving just as Christ forgave us.
We must not indulge in filthy talk or sexual immorality and avoid bad company as they might corrupt us.
We need to seek God’s will and make the best use of our time.
Instead of being drunk, we should have a grateful attitude and be filled with Holy Spirit, encouraging others through psalms and hymns.
Our new status should also impact our family life. Husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. Wives should submit to their husbands. Children should honour their parents. Fathers should not exasperate their children but bring them up in the fear of God.
The way slaves (or employees) and masters (or employers) should behave and relate to one another is spelled out. The former should respect their bosses and serve them as if they were serving Christ. Bosses should treat their workers well, cognizant of the fact that God is Master over all.
Jesus’ challenge to those who mean business with Him is this: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Yet, in another part of the Bible, we read that God has promised rest for His people and we should do our best to enter this place where we cease from our labours (Hebrews 4:1).
How are we to reconcile carrying a heavy burden—like a cross—with entering God’s rest?
It is true that we receive God’s grace (salvation) through faith, not works. But, then, what comes next? God is looking for fruit: Changed lives, repentance and obedience, all of which does not nullify at all the grace we receive by faith.
Believers who earnestly desire to be God’s instruments must be prepared for satan’s reprisals.
Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (Dec 2008 – Oct 2011). He can be reached at his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AskDrLi
SOURCE OF ARTICLE: http://limpohann.blogspot.my/2017/05/sit-walk-stand.html
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Dr Lim Poh Ann