Partnership with Christ
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 2 - Men of Faith

Reading: Joshua 1:1-11; Hebrews 3:14-15.

It is important that we should see that the promises, the covenants, the nature of the land, and the sabbath rest mentioned in the Old Testament in the book of Joshua have their real fulfilment in Christ. Historically, of course, all these promises and covenants related to Israel and the land, and there may still be a relatedness to Israel. It may still be that Israel will have the land in fulness, and the promises and covenants be fulfilled in a literal earthly way. But the fullest and highest realization of all those things is in Christ, in the Church, and it is not until the spiritual meaning of all those things is gathered up and realized in a raptured Church that Israel can have any earthly fulness at all.   When we, as the Church, have been raptured into the fulness that is in Christ, and that fulness has become an actual realization in the Church, then Israel will really begin to possess and come into her inheritance. It is important to see that, because it surely adds to the urge and strength of the appeal, and brings us face to face in a very real way with what the Lord is now seeking, and must have, a people who in a spiritual way come into the good of all this that is set forth.

God and the Men of Faith

The men of faith in the Old Testament were themselves led beyond a possible earthly realization to the heavenly; for although God made promises to them there was no full earthly realization because of continual failure.  Those who were with them, who were fellow-heirs of the promises and the covenants, broke down continually, and therefore it was not possible even for the men of faith to inherit. But in the midst of repeated declensions and failures the latter remained men of faith, who held fast the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end. You will notice that God came in with the men of faith, and led them away from the earthly to the heavenly, and gave them within their own hearts the assurance that, although they would not themselves realize the full meaning of the promises and the covenants in a literal way on the earth, they would inherit the value of that in a heavenly form. This clearly seems to be the meaning of such a statement as we find in John 8:66: "Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad." Or again, "...they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly." (Heb. 11:16). That is going beyond the earthly. They were lifted beyond that which now became an impossible thing in their day, an earthly realization of the promises and covenants, and were given the assurance of a heavenly country: "For he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10). That is not the earthly Jerusalem, it is something more. So men of faith, who held fast the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end, found the promises in a spiritual way translated from the earthlies to the heavenlies. That covers the whole of the letter to the Hebrews. It is faith by which we are lifted away from the earthlies to the heavenlies, and that which becomes an impossible thing here on the earth because of breakdown, and declension, and failure, is secured in an exalted Christ to men of faith, in Him Who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, to Whom we are called to look off, even Jesus.

All this is gathered up in Christ crowned with glory and honour, and is to be realized in those who are partakers or partners in the heavenly calling; not the earthly now, but the heavenly. It is the heavenly calling, the heavenly vision, for a heavenly people, which is in view in this letter.

Thus it is that Christ governs every promise, every vision, every hope, every covenant. He dominates all: Abraham, whom we have seen before to represent election and promise; Isaac, representing sonship in resurrection; Jacob, chastening and service,  and Joseph in whom all these features are embodied and carried to the throne for the purpose of bringing fulness to the elect; and with Joseph the land comes into view when he gives commandment concerning his bones. So you see that all that is represented by Abraham (election and promise), Isaac (sonship and resurrection), Jacob (chastening in service), and Joseph (embodying all in the throne), is carried over to the land. The land represents it all, and becomes the embodiment of it. And now again you have Christ in the place of the land. It is all gathered up in Him Who embodies all that is signified by the land, and in Christ we come into all that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph mean in relation to the land. Joseph gave commandment concerning his bones, and that was faith's comprehension of the land of promise. The land was in view.

The Purpose of Chastening

It is important, and perhaps of special value, to realize that service comes at the end. Jacob is the third of the Patriarchs with whom the covenant was made. The covenant was never made with Joseph. The recurring word is always, "I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob," and although Joseph was a much fuller type than any of these it is never said, I am the God of Joseph, simply because Joseph was the embodiment of all the others; he included all the rest. So that Jacob becomes the end of the Divine association, and Jacob represents a disciplined or chastened service.

That is the key to the Lord's present dealings with ourselves, and we are carried to the end of the letter to the Hebrews with a bound; for with what is the concluding part of this letter occupied if not with training? "My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." The last word in that verse should not be rendered "receiveth." That is an unfortunately weak and perhaps misleading translation, because it would seem in a special way to relate the Lord's scourging of lives to the time of their coming into acceptance with Him. That is not the point at all. The more literal and correct translation is, "...and scourgeth every son whom he places." There is all the difference between receiving and placing. Here is something that signifies a graduation, an advanced movement in relation to the Lord. We are now in the course of that chastening, and that represents preparation for service.

What a lot we make of service in this life, as though for us here there were not another thing to compare with its importance. People seem to think that service is the thing above all other things which must dominate and characterize our relationship to the Lord. God forbid that ever we should be negligent in serving the Lord, but rather fervent in spirit serving Him; nevertheless, let us remember that very often the Lord places a great deal more importance upon our being fitted than upon our being used. That is why the Lord very often thinks it worth while to take people right out of work, and to call them aside and purify them through a long extended period of discipline. These are going to be vessels of great honour, great service, afterward.

The company that is to serve in the throne is to be a very chastened company. Only from the Divine point of view can I thus explain the intensity of the suffering of those who go all the way with the Lord, that it represents value to Him in usefulness in the ages to come. It seems to me that the Word clearly touches that.

That is, again, rather afield, but it should be helpful to us to understand why the Lord is dealing with us as He is. The point we are seeking to press is that the land is Christ, and He gathers up into Himself everything in connection with the Divine fulness, all the typical meaning that is found in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

The Typical Meaning of Moses

Between Joseph and the land comes Moses. Moses occupies a very large place in that section between the command concerning Joseph's bones and the land in relation to which he gave the command. Moses stands for the making known of a condition and order of heavenly life which is God's unalterable and irreducible requirement. It is important to know that, because it sums up Moses. What does Moses stand for? How can you comprehend the significance of Moses? In the way we have named. He stands for the making known of a condition and order of heavenly life which is God's unalterable and irreducible requirement.

Everything that came through Moses was a pattern of heavenly things. The whole government in the wilderness was a government of Israel by heavenly laws; that is, Israel had to learn through Moses how to live on heavenly resources, when all earthly resources were cut off. It was intended to be a revelation of how they could do that, how they could live out from heaven when there was nothing on earth to live on. Everything in Moses was the making known of this heavenly condition and order required in His people by God. How God kept to His ground! If there was the slightest deviation, how the wrath and disfavour of God were manifested! They murmured for water. That was quite a natural thing to do. You and I would do so if we were in a desert and dying of thirst. They murmured for bread, for a change of diet from the manna. That is a very natural thing to do. Yes, that is the trouble. It was natural, and not spiritual. God was trying to teach them that there was sufficiency in Himself in heaven, when all other resources were closed up. It was an effort to make known by every means through Moses a heavenly company with a heavenly order and heavenly resources, and God showed His disapproval, His disfavour, His wrath, whenever there was a failure to recognize that heavenliness which He was seeking to make known to them.

This revelation of the heavenly order and condition was imposed upon them, but there was in their case no position or power to live up to it. The position and the power were lacking, and hence it became a law. When you speak of law you enter into the realm where something is put upon you whether you like it or not, and you have to recognize it. Whether you can keep it or not, it is there. Law never takes account of your condition, nor of your position. The law says a thing, and it remains unalterable whatever your condition and position may be.

From the Outward to the Inward

Now we are ready for the book of Joshua. How does the book of Joshua open? The Lord said unto Joshua, "Moses my servant is dead," and typically this introduces a new order. Jordan, as Paul makes very clear in his letter to the Romans, represents death to the law as an outward form of government. How? Let us remember that there is no such thing as death to the law apart from being alive to Christ. If you are not alive to Christ you are under the law, you are governed by the law. The only deliverance from the law is through the death of Christ unto the resurrection of Christ. It is resurrection that represents deliverance, and there can be no real death to the law in any powerful way, in any effective way, until you know what it is to be alive unto God in resurrection. Do you notice how very particular the Holy Spirit is in making that clear, especially through Paul? Whenever the dynamic for making the meaning of Christ's death a reality is in view, it is the resurrection of Christ that is mentioned. We are saved by His life.

The book of Joshua begins with the statement, "Moses my servant is dead..." What comes in with that? Is it not a new position, and a new power? A new position! They are over Jordan, and no longer under Moses in the wilderness. A new power! There is One Who is the Captain of the hosts of the Lord, to be, indeed, invisible for the rest of the campaign, but marvellously in operation, mighty in energy. Joshua takes up what is represented by the Angel of the Lord, and becomes the representation of the energy of the Holy Ghost operating in a new position. The Epistle to the Ephesians is the counterpart of that. In Ephesians we have the great opening declaration: "...hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ..." That is in the land spiritually, a new position in the heavenlies. Then Ephesians almost immediately goes on to speak of "...the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenlies, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named..." That is the note of Ephesians, and it is also that of Hebrews: "...we behold Jesus... crowned with glory and honour..." The Ephesian position is in the heavenlies, where we are now blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ, Who is the land, and with this position is associated "the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe."

That is the significance of the Lord's statement to Joshua, "Moses my servant is dead..." It makes something more possible, namely, a new position, a new energy, a further development. It is no longer the imposition of something outward upon us as God's irreducible minimum, to which we cannot for a moment stand up, by reason of our weakness, but is now a position in Christ with an energy which is the energy of the Holy Ghost, the exceeding greatness of His power making possible an attaining unto all the revealed fulness of the Divine will.

Before concluding this further meditation on the Object, we first need to face the fact that

God's Will is Clearly Made Known

He desires His people to come to His fulness, and all His highest designs are inseparably connected with that revealed will, that object. All His highest designs are bound up with our going on to God's end, the fulness of Christ, and their full meaning can never be realized by us except as we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end. The point is that it is made clear that God's will is that we should go on to the fulness.

Three Courses are Possible

Three courses are possible as seen in the case of Israel.

(a) To Die in the Wilderness

It is possible, although out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness. What does that mean? On the one hand, it is to fail to come into the realm of that fulness of God in Christ which was intended for us. On the other hand, how can we fail? Israel's history tells us quite clearly that we may do so through carnal mindedness, a merely carnal Christianity. It is against that that the Apostle Paul warns so strongly. How often he says, "are ye not carnal!" Saved, out of Egypt, but carnal, the flesh more dominant than the spirit. In that case you die in the wilderness; that is, you fail to reach God's end and to attain unto the realization of God's revealed will.

(b) To Compromise for Present Satisfaction

The second possibility is that which is represented by the two and a half tribes, who said, "Bring us not over this Jordan." They sought their inheritance on the other side of Jordan. You know the nature of that choice. They saw a goodly land, a fruitful patch, something that could be had without all the difficulty and cost of the conflict. They set their hearts upon it. They made a compromise. In a word, they refused to pay the price of utterness.

They speak to us of that kind of life and service which has its fulness in present, seen things, in quick results, quick returns; which is occupied with much activity which is itself the satisfaction, or becomes the satisfaction. So many people think that if they can but keep busy in the Name of the Lord they are getting on splendidly. They find their satisfaction in the fact that they are doing a lot, and not in the ultimate spiritual values. A great many such people eventually wake up to discover that they have been very busy but not very effective. In all their busy-ness and activity, in which they have found so much pleasure, so much personal gratification, there is not a great deal, after all, of that which abides eternally to the satisfaction of God. It is a very dangerous realm to get into. The two and a half tribes made a compromise, in which they sought for the quick return, the immediate satisfaction.

(c) To go on to the Fulness

The third possibility is that of going on unto all the spiritual and heavenly fulness of Christ, which is, nevertheless, a life of sheer faith and intense conflict.

Those three possibilities confront us. We can die in the wilderness; we can compromise for present satisfaction; or we can go on in faith, in the conflict. The latter has ever in it that factor which seems to say that however great the progress there is far more ground yet to be gained. Every bit of gain is as nothing because of the realization that there is so much farther to go. Because of the intensity of the antagonism of the enemy, the severity of the conflict, we are always more conscious of the arduousness of the road than of the attainment of the fulness. Ah, but it is going on all the same. These are the alternatives we have to face.

2. The Urgency

Bear with me for a moment or two while I deal with that which is perhaps the least pleasant side of things.

The Possibility of Failure Through Heart-defection

That fact is hammered out in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Israel's history is employed repeatedly as a basis of urge, and appeal, and warning. In the Psalms and the Epistles you hear this refrain repeatedly: "Harden not your hearts as in the provocation...". That tragic phase is constantly brought up as a ground of urging, appealing, warning. 

This possibility of failure has its occasion in a state of heart. This tremendous element of contingency and doubt which seems to run through the Word of God, with reference to believers, is not related to our salvation. When you are dealing with salvation you are dealing with affirmatives, with positives all the time, there is a strong note of confident assurance; but when you are dealing with the full purpose of God, the goal, the prize, all that is meant by the heavenly calling, you find an element all the time of contingency and doubt. It is represented in that long series of "ifs"-"If we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end." "Whose house are we if..." You cannot get over them, and you cannot get round them; they face you as you read through. Paul gathered his whole final energy up under the urgency of a mighty "if"-"If by any means I may attain...."

This precariousness is based upon, or rises out of, a state of heart. In the book of Joshua we find a series of elements which were calculated to bring about this failure again, even over Jordan, calculated to hinder the fulness to which the Lord would bring His people. And each one of these elements was calculated to reveal an appeal to a new state and had its occasion there.

Now this is the word we must consider before we come to the end of this meditation. These elements seen in the book of Joshua were calculated to frustrate the end of God in His people by discovering and securing a certain state of heart as the basis of their success.

Take again the case of the two and a half tribes. Do you notice what was said when they made their bid for that early settlement on the other side of Jordan? "And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel..." (Numbers 32:7). Then in the first place they represented something which would take the energy, the wholehearted devotion, out of the Lord's people. So it is possible for the hearts of the Lord's people to be thus seduced. There was the peril of a state of heart that was not after this kind: God has made it clear that His purpose is so-and-so: whatever other people do, I am going on to that: other people may stop short and seem to have a good time, and have much blessing, but I have seen that God has set something beyond that as His goal, and whatever other people do that is my objective.

"My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God;
'Tis His to lead me there, not mine, but His-
At any cost, dear Lord, by any road!"

The state described in the latter half of the verse does not apply to the two and a half tribes, because their heart was not like that, and therefore they became a menace. The Devil knows the state of our hearts, and very subtly can he work to appeal to it.

As to the two and a half tribes themselves, they speak to us of present benefit in relation to the Lord apart from suffering. They represent those who say, It is not necessary to be so utter. Why be so intense? Why be so utter? Sometimes the word fanatical is used. It is not necessary! Why not be just content with trusting and enjoying the Lord, having a nice simple Christian life? Why all this complication of the Christian life? That argument may sound all right, and often Scripture is quoted-"...the simplicity that is in Christ." A Scripture like that is used against what is called the complicated kind of Christian life, represented by these people who are always reaching out for more. Why not enjoy the Lord in a nice, happy, comfortable way? Well, allowing that it is possible to be wrongly intense, and to make a terrific strain of the Christian life (I do not believe the Lord wants that), the whole matter is determined for us by the fact that it is not a question of what I want, of the kind of life I would choose, or whether it should be pleasant or trying, but it is a question of what the Lord wants. What does the Lord want? Has the Lord shown that He wants a people who will reach out for His utmost? Paul, you are so strenuous. Why do you talk like that? Why do you say, "if by any means I may attain?" You are an old man now; surely you can begin to take it easy; you know the Lord in a wonderful way, you have a wonderful history. Paul, do not be so strenuous! Paul would answer: Do you think that, after all, it is merely a matter of my temperament, of my likes or dislikes? If I were to consider myself I would certainly begin to take it easy, but I see that the Lord has set a standard, a position which relates to an eternal purpose of usefulness and glory to Him to which I have not yet attained, and I gather up everything in the last lap and concentrate upon that. Call it intensity if you like, but "leaving the things which are behind... I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

The two and a half tribes were of quite another spirit. They were people who were considering themselves in the Christian life and not the Lord. Had they for one moment sat down and said, What does the Lord want? instead of, What can we have? they would have gone on. The answer was clear and emphatic. There was no doubt that the Lord's revealed will was that they should go over Jordan, and on to the end. They compromised, and their descendants can be heard today saying, Oh, it is not necessary to have this kind of Christian life, where you are always reaching on and never satisfied! Be content! Why? Because it is much easier, and much nicer. Is that all that matters? Is it to be our one concern that things should be pleasant, and nice, and comfortable? Is it that or is it the will of God that is to govern us? The occasion of the enemy is found in a state of heart, to deter, to arrest, to limit.

The Lesson of Achan

Then we pass to the next phase, and here we meet with Achan. What does Achan represent? Another Satanic trick to arrest progress, to hold up, to check, to curtail. Again it is clearly personal interest that comes in. How? A mighty blessing has been given of the Lord, a tremendous victory. There has been a great gain, a coming into possession, a manifesting of the Lord's presence and power at Jericho, and out of the midst of the very blessing of the Lord, Achan takes something for himself. How often that has been the undoing and the arrest of blessing. The very blessings of the Lord are turned to personal account. When the Lord has blessed and prospered, how many people have not themselves become something? Here is a successful movement! Here is my chance! There is a laying hold of that work, and a turning of it to personal account. That is the history of things. The most dangerous time for the work of God is the time of blessing. You will always find people coming in when there is blessing, not because they have God's end in view, but because a realm of blessing means personal good. God gave Jericho into the hands of Israel, and as He did so Achan took something into his own hands; took it for himself, for his own enjoyment, and his own glory, and made the very fruits of blessing personal ends. Oh, the Devil is very subtle. The whole course was at once brought under arrest and disaster.

The Lord is calling us on to the fulness of Christ, and sometimes on the way He may let us see the working of His power, that He is with us. The world may be against us, the Devil may be withstanding, and the Lord lets us see in some little way that He is with us. And then alongside of that there comes the most awful peril, in that we snap our fingers at everything and everybody, and at the Devil himself. We are supported by the Lord in the position we have taken! We are vindicated! That is a perilous position. The Lord may have to say, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven! Do not find any personal gratification in the fact that the demons are subject unto you! It is all in the same realm as glorying in a wrong way in the blessings of the Lord. We have to go on steadily, and take our encouragements when they come, thank the Lord quietly for them, and get on with the main business, not staying to gloat over the fruits of the Lord's blessing in a personal way.

There is a great deal of ground covered by that. It is often a source of so much gratification if only you can tell people of the success that is coming to you in the work of the Lord, how many people are coming, how many souls are being saved, how you are being used, how the Lord's seal is upon you. All unconsciously we take hold of the honour for our own flesh. The Lord has to hide so much from us, because it is dangerous for us; our flesh makes it dangerous. We shall be tried by blessing as well as by adversity. The keenest fires of trial are often those of success or prosperity. Such tests discover whether our hearts are fixed upon the Lord or upon things.

A Lie in Disguise

Next we come to the Gibeonites. The thing that is said about the Gibeonites, and which sums them up, is this: "They also did work wilily..." (Joshua 9:4).  Lies, and flattery, and sentiment all working together.

Flattery! Oh, we know that you are the Lord's people! We know the Lord is with you! We have heard all about it! We have no doubt whatever that you are specially led of God! You are bound to succeed!

Lies! You are familiar with the lies of the Gibeonites. They are recorded in chapter nine of the book of Joshua.

Sentiment! Though we started out on this long journey with new wineskins, and warm bread from the oven in our bags, see how tired out we are, and how worn out these wineskins are: and all because we believe in you! We know the Lord is with you, and we appeal to your kind-heartedness!

It is very striking that when Paul in chapter 6 of the letter to the Ephesians exhorts believers to take unto them the whole armour of God he does not say, Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fierce onslaughts of the Devil. You would expect him to say that, when he has told of such an equipment; a helmet of salvation, a breastplate of righteousness, a shield of faith, a girdle of truth, and a sword of the Spirit. This surely means that the Devil is coming in with fierce onslaughts. No! The Scripture is, "...that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." All this provision of God is given to that end.

What is the object of the Devil? Arrest! And what are we to say of the alliance with the Gibeonites? Something which ought to have been slain became an institution. That peril is not so far from us as it pretends to be. The Gibeonites said to Joshua: "From a very far country thy servants are come..." when as a matter of fact they were next door neighbours. The peril is much nearer to us than perhaps we realize.

The Weapons of our Warfare are not Carnal

What are we to gather from this? What was the nature of the breakdown?

To put it into a sentence it was the wisdom of man seeking to deal with the wit of the Devil. The Gibeonites came to the elders and the princes of Israel, who listened to their tales, heard their arguments and their appeals, became soft under their sentiment, and made a covenant with them. The princes of Israel! A prince is one who is supposed to have judgment and understanding, but here these princes and elders of Israel dealt with the thing by the hearing of their ears, and the sight of their eyes, and the judgment of their own hearts.

Arrest from going to the full end of God, the fulness of Christ, has often been brought about by our trying to counter the works of the enemy with our own human wisdom. Let us have it settled clearly, once for all, that our need in this heavenly realm of warfare is of a spirit of wisdom, understanding, discernment; for the enemy has ways of coming along to bring us into a compromised condition by very plausible presentations to get something established in the midst of us which will be a thorn in our sides. It is easier to let that in than to get it out. Oh, for wisdom that does not fix its gaze upon merely sentimental ground, or on the ground of reason, but wants new creation ground all the time. The one word in the mouth of the Gibeonites was "old." Now Israel is in the new creation, and has nothing to do with old things. The enemy cannot be met on old creation ground of human wisdom; it is necessary for the new creation ground to be occupied, and for us to partake of the mind of Christ.

It would not have been long before the elders of Israel detected the deception had they gone to the Lord about this, and said, Lord, this sounds all right; we cannot see anything wrong with it; the argument is good and the situation for these men seems very desperate; they appear to be very honest, very sincere, and all the evidences seem to support their position; nevertheless, Lord, this situation cannot be settled until we get more light; we are in the realm where we are very capable of being misled. The Lord in faithfulness would have come in and said, Be careful what you do with those men. The Devil has laid a trap for you.

I believe a good deal of that goes on, and we do know something of it. From time to time, in the face of a situation which seems to be perfectly good and right the Lord inwardly says, Be careful! Do not commit yourself to that! You will discover later on what is wrong with it! And so we do. We are in a realm where it is so necessary for us to walk in the Spirit, because only the Spirit can keep us moving on in a clear way to the fulness; for if in a case like that of the two and a half tribes, or Achan, or the Gibeonites, we come down on to the natural ground in our endeavour to deal with heavenly things, with spiritual forces, we are bound to have our course checked, and our progress toward the Divine fulness brought under arrest.

Beware  of any  alliance with the enemy through a lie. Take the helmet of salvation against the wiles of the Devil. Now why should the head be covered against wiles, and why should that covering be salvation? We take it that if the enemy can injure your head you will not stand up very long. What is the thing at which he is constantly aiming which represents the helmet, the head covering? It is the assured fact that in Christ Jesus our salvation is secured. The enemy is always trying to upset that, to cut through that, to strike us down at that point of the certainty of our salvation, the crowning reality that through faith in the Lord Jesus we are saved. This wile of the Devil has ever that object in view. He will never give that up, and it is in the heavenlies that that battle is fought more intensely than anywhere. That is to say, it is when you come on into the fuller ranges of the spiritual life that the intensity of the dispute concerning the fact of our salvation is encountered. It is strange that the most devoted, and perhaps most advanced, child of God is the object of assault as to that very thing. The young Christian never doubts his or her salvation, but lives in the full confidence and assurance of it. Somehow or other it is those who have gone a long way with the Lord who come under this terrific assault as to the security of their salvation after all. It shows that the more you get into the heavenly realm, the sphere of the naked forces of the Devil, the more intense is their assault upon you in the realm of your mind about your salvation. So the head must be covered.

Then the breastplate of righteousness has to be taken against the Devil's wiles. How often the enemy succeeds in getting even experienced believers to try to find some ground of their justification, their acceptance with God, in themselves; something in themselves that they can offer to God, that they can stand upon as a ground of assurance. No! Never! If ever the enemy can get us away from the righteousness of Christ as the ground of our acceptance, he has suspended our course, he has arrested our progress. This wile of the Devil has as its object the moving of us from the basic ground that it is Christ's righteousness that answers to God for us, and not our own.

Then the girdle of truth has to be taken against the wiles of the Devil, and likewise the shield of faith. He stands at nothing. Nothing is sacred with him. Nothing is ever thought to be too settled, too sacred, too assured for his assault. He will try anything, if only he can stop our going on with the Lord.

Take the New Testament with all these letters in it, and what have you? A mass of material which had to do with this abiding and persistent peril of the people of God stopping short in their spiritual life, and to deal with it. It is remarkable that such material so far out­weighs the addresses and sermons given to the unsaved. You would think, seeing it was the beginning of things, the evangelization of the world in its first great movement, the great gathering in of the unsaved, that all the wonderful Gospel messages by which these people were saved would be recorded. There is very little of that kind of thing. What you do find is a whole volume of material dealing with this peril that confronts the people of God, the peril of stopping short in their spiritual progress. All this was intended to urge them on, ever on, because the whole force of the powers of darkness was gathered and concentrated upon arresting spiritual growth, upon preventing a coming to the fulness of Christ which was God's intention.

The Fact of Victory Through Heavenly Union

Now what is the final thing? Not that we shall be able to deal with it, but we must close with it in mind. The book of Joshua represents another side of things. There were checks, there were interventions, but there was another side. There was Jericho and its conquest, and there was victory the second time at Ai, there were mighty conquests; all speaking of an ascendency, a dominion, a throne union with the Lord. And if there is but a partial presentation of that truth in the book of Joshua, there is a very full unveiling of it in the New Testament, especially through Paul's letters. There is for us now a spiritual union with Him Who is crowned with glory and honour, a spiritual union with Him in His authority, by which the forces of the enemy can be outwitted, out­manoeuvred and overthrown. Is not that the meaning of the declaration in Ephesians, "in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus." It is to that we must come in order to go on. We shall never go right on until we know our heavenly union with Christ, our union with Him as in the throne. It is a real working thing, by which we are made aware of the lies of the Devil, and strengthened with all might by God's Spirit in the inward man to meet his fury.

It is a position and a power to be known now over all the power of the enemy. The Lord lead us into it.


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