The majority of believers today are in legal bondage because they do not see the essential difference between our position and that of Israel under the Law. Israel depended upon their own obedience to get their blessings in the land. Christians receive their blessings because of the Lord Jesus’ obedience in their stead. He paid in full “the wages of sin”—which was death (Rom 6:23): and we have the “free gift of God”—eternal life. This gives us rest of heart so that we have leisure to love the Father for His own sake and learn to delight in His will.
The primary reason Christians today are living such unhappy, such empty, such weak and fruitless lives, is not that they are “not consecrated,” “not surrendered, “not self-denying,” ”not obedient.” The trouble, the one great trouble, is, Christians do not believe that they are “free from the Law, in Christ Jesus” (which Christians Gentiles were never under, as Christian Jews were before believing); and that they already have the glorious blessings they are seeking after and need only to claim them to enjoy them—that “their part” is simply to enter in and by the Spirit enjoy the infinite spoils of the Lord Jesus’ victory.
We died with the Lord Jesus, and were made alive “together with Him.” And with Him we were raised up and seated in heavenly places in Him; where, as a real fact, every child of God now is, in His sight and reckoning, whether by his own reckoning and consequent experience or not! This position in the Lord Jesus seated at the Father‘s right hand is the only platform from which the believer can consider aright the truths of the Word of God!
If positional truth, rather than the duties of attainment, were taught first to the saints, much more satisfactory results would follow the ministry of Christian workers. We should note most carefully that Israel was brought into Canaan (Josh 14:1), uncircumcised (in their heart, not in their flesh) and unworthy as they were, before they were asked (Jer 4:4) to take the circumcised, separated position as the people of God.
So we, as Christians, have been already brought by Christ Jesus our Head, in His death, resurrection and ascension, into the “heavenly places,” and to us have been given “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3). And it is always on the ground of where we already are, and what we already are, and what we already have, that the Holy Spirit speaks to us concerning our wholehearted recognition and acceptance of the blessed privileges and responsibilities of “the calling wherewith we are called.”
Paul does not ask a thing of the saints in Ephesians 1-3 but just to listen while he proclaims that wondrous series of great and eternal facts concerning them; and not until he has completed this catalogue of positional realities about them does he ask them to do anything at all! And when he does open his plea for their high walk as saints, everything is based on the revelation before given of the facts of their high character and destiny as saints: “I therefore . . . beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith you were called” (Eph 4:1).
Let us cease laying down to the saints long lists of “conditions” of entering into the blessed life in the Lord Jesus; and instead, as the primal preparation for leading them into the reality of this life, show them what their position, possessions, and privileges in the Lord Jesus Christ already are. Thus shall we truly work in dependence upon the Holy Spirit; and thus shall we have much more abiding fruit of our labors among the people of God.
Wm R Newell