The Cross of Calvary # 21
"Forasmuch then as Christ suffered in the flesh, arm ye yourselves also with the same mind" (1 Peter 4:1).
The adversary may be a conquered foe; the power of the blood may be ready for us to wield in the hour of conflict; but unless we seek to know in ever deeper measure the inner Spirit of the crucified Jesus, we shall still be powerless in the fight with the forces of evil attacking us.
"Christ suffered in the flesh" writes the Apostle Peter, "arm ye yourselves with the same mind". The Lord Jesus deliberately chose the path of suffering in this present evil world. He deliberately took the form of a servant, although He was Lord of all; deliberately took the place of weakness, "becoming in the likeness of men", although He was Almighty; deliberately humbled Himself as a Man, by going to the lowest point of humiliation earth could find for Him, although in heaven He was on an equality with God; deliberately followed the path of obedience to God's will, even until it led Him to a Cross of agony and shame. Step by step, lower and lower He went. The Cross was no theory to Him! He suffered in the flesh.
Oh child of God, arm yourself with the same mind. Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. If you will choose that the spirit of His death on the Cross shall be imparted to you, you will "cease unto sins", and no longer live according to the usual desires of the natural man, but according to the contrary standpoint of the "will of God". It is true that others will "think it strange", and may "speak evil of you", but "if ye be reproached for ... Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory, and of God resteth upon you; on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified".
We must be armed within by the inbreathed crucifixion Spirit of Jesus, if we are to triumph without; wield with certain victory the weapon of the "blood of the Lamb"; and prove experimentally that on Calvary the devil became a conquered foe.
The Whole Armor of God
"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil ... having overcome all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:11,13).
Paul here most vividly describes the enemy, and the conflict into which we emerge on the resurrection side of Calvary.
"Be made powerful in the Lord," writes Paul, "and in the strength of His might". This pre-supposes that the believer has come to an end of his own might,for it is to those who have been "quickened with Christ", and "raised" up with Him, and made to "sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" - thus putting on "the new man" - that the Apostle writes.
How are they to act in the hour of fierce temptation? is the question in their hearts. They have been "crucified with Christ", and now moment by moment living by His life, are they to fight? or what are they to do?
They are to be "powerful in the Lord", and strengthened by His might in them, they are just to stand their ground! Stand against all the "wiles of the devil" to get them away from Calvary, and their place in the Lord.
"For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood" writes Paul. Wrestling - yes, the spiritual enemy attacks the spiritual man in a spiritual way, and the believer is conscious of a hand-to-hand conflict with some unseen foe, who, so to speak, winds himself around the inner man, and "wrestles" in very truth. To "fight" is hopeless, the believer can only "stand firm", and refuse at all costs to surrender his position in Christ, or yield to the wiles of the devil.
The reference to "flesh and blood" suggests that these "wiles" often come in human guise! But the soul strongly entrenched in the Lord is given acute vision to see "the spirit that now worketh", not only in the "sons of disobedience", but ofttimes by means of servants of God, as we have seen he did through Peter to tempt the Son of God, and when satan moved David to act without the commands of God.
Strengthened with power by the Holy Spirit in the inward man, the believer becomes a true warrior of God, increasingly able to recognize the principalities and powers as the "world rulers of this darkness", and learns that the "prince of the power of the air" has resources in the forces of the air to attack the child of God as he attacked Job, and is able to move men as tools to fulfill his will, even without their knowledge.
"Wherefore, take up with you to the battle the whole armor of God", cries the warrior Paul. The Christ has led these spiritual hosts of wickedness in triumph to His Cross, but you who are joined to Him most actively and ceaselessly, "take up" the armor thus provided for you.
Christ has not triumphed at the cost of His life to give thee nought to do, oh child of God. Thou hast thy part in the conflict, thou must overcome as He overcame, if thou art to share His Throne.
When thou dost learn the victory of Calvary,and hasten out of thyself into Christ, host after host will come up against thee,and seek to draw thee out from thy Lord. That thou mayest "withstand them in the evil day" thou must see to it that thou hast taken by the hand of faith every part of the armor of God.
If thou wilt put on the whole armor, thou shalt "withstand", and "having overthrown them all" - all the spirits of evil that will swarm around thee with innumerable wiles - thou shalt stand unshaken, victorious through the blood of the Lamb.
The "whole armor" is the Lord Christ Himself. Thou dwellest "in the Lord", and "in Him" thou must "be made powerful" to meet all the hosts of hell.
If thou wilt abide in Him thou must take heed to be "girt with the belt of truth", for one shade of aught in thy life that is contrary to truth, as before the eyes of Him Who is the truth, will bring complete defeat at the hands of the foe.
The breastplate of righteousness will be thine whilst thou dost truly abide in Him Who is thy righteousness, and dost not allow anything in thy life contrary to the righteousness of Him, the scepter of Whose kingdom is a scepter of uprightness indeed.
"In the Lord" thou must be a ready messenger of the glad tidings of peace, for thou art" saved to serve", and thou must with alacrity obey the promptings of the Spirit as thou dost walk the earth, of thou wilt give occasion to thy watchful foe.
Thou must quickly take,and hide behind, the "shield of faith" from the "fiery darts of the evil one", and especially keep the "helmet of salvation" upon thy head, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, thy "thoughts" should be corrupted from the "simplicity that is in Christ". Above all, for defense and attack, thou wilt ceaselessly need the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, which is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword.
In intimate converse with thy Lord, speaking to Him at "all seasons in the Spirit", thou shalt be equipped to meet the foe, and be more than conqueror through Him Who loveth thee.
Knowing also the fierceness of the fight, and that when one member of the Body of Christ suffers, all suffer too; thou wilt with "all perseverance" be pleading for "all saints", especially on the behalf of those who, like the warrior Paul, are in the front of the battle of the Lord.
Then thou shalt be taught by Him how to "stand in the battle in the day of the Lord", and wilt be sent forth as an armed warrior, clothed in shining armor, in aggressive warfare to win the trophies of the Cross, seeing signs and wonders done in the Name of the crucified and Risen Lord.
(continued with # 22)