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Then, as to masters. Do not be guilty of threatening The lordly ways of masters and mistresses are hateful How does your Master in heaven treat you?
Here the practical part ends; but I ask, does it not dig. nify you? As George Herbert says, “Who sweeps a room, if for Thy laws, makes that, and the action fine." It is the same thing to Christ, if you are up there in His company. It is the same Jesus who is enfolding, embracing, enriching you in every step of the journey, and that for His own eternity.
We have observed that this epistle naturally distributes itself into three parts—doctrinal and practical; and here, from ver. 10 to the end, we get a scene of conflict. Teaching, Walk, and Conflict.
The teaching, we remember, was the education of the Church, the body of Christ; and we were observing that there was heavenly calling before there was Church calling. We have constant proof all along the line of Old Testament days, of heavenly calling; but we have only distant shadowy intimations of the body of Christ, as has been said by another, “ It would have sounded absurd in the ears of a Jew, to talk in divine mysterious language, of giving Messiah a body, completing Him, filling Him out.” It is not said of Abraham, that he was blessed in heavenly places in Christ, incorporated in Christ. This is the grand teaching of this highest of all the epistles. Then, leaving the doctrinal part, we enter on the practical, which goes on to ver. 9 of this chap. vi.; and I should like to repeat what we were observing. When we come to the practical part of the epistle, we get the doctrinal part gloriously honoured. Precepts become, in the hands of the Spirit, the expression of the moral virtue that lies in the doctrine. If I had my heart open to God, I should be guided by the intrinsic virtue of my calling; and, oli, if we have common spiritual taste, we
must enjoy that! Is it not beautiful, to see the doctrine and precepts thus in company? In the same way, Peter stands before the doctrine, and wonders that we should not prove the moral virtue of it; and so do I. Then, in the next place, it gives precepts a dispensational character. God is not dwelling in the same light now, as when He was sitting on the throne in Jerusalem. That was an earthly light; a light that shone on earth. The light in which God now dwells is the awful, yet, most precious mystery, that He has been rejected here in His dear Son, and that that Son is now glorified in heaven. And you must be in the light where God dwells. You must make God's dispensational truth, the rule of your ways. I speak not, of course, of the light in which God dwells, as in His own proper glory—as we read in i. Tim. vi. 16.
Now, the difference between chapters v. and vi. is this. In chap. v. we see the saint taking his walk in the midst of the circumstances of human life. Here we see the saint in the field of battle. Do you believe your conflict is as constant as your walk? Are you to be in conflict to-day, and in conflict again to-morrow. There is plenty of work for us to do; our hands will be full enough if we are practical living saints of God.
Now, in opening this third view, he tell us to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might, taking to us the whole armour of God, that we may withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. The Spirit contemplates that it is a war from beginning to end. There may be certain battles; but, having done with the specific fight, you must still stand as in a war! Are you prepared for finding human life a war? That is what this passage is pregnant with.
Whether the specific fighting be present or not, your whole soul is to rest in the conclusion that it is incessant war, till you have done with this world, this flesh, and the devil. If two nations are at war, they may not be fighting every day; a battle may be a rare thing; but war has been proclaimed. The Lord forbid that you and I should not know that as long as we are in the body, we are in a field of battle. “The evil day" is a specific battle. If we have won the victory, why are we still to stand? Because war has been proclaimed.
Have you proclaimed war with the lusts that are in your members, and the spirit of the world around you? Your soul is to recognize that, while you are in the body, you are a fighting man. That being your position, you are to put on the whole armour of God, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world; against wicked spirits in heavenly places.” Now, how do you understand this? Do you rest in the thought that wicked spirits are in heavenly places? It is abundantly taught us. In 2 Chron., chap. xviž., the Lord says, “Who shall entice Ahab, king of Israel ?" "I will
, entice him," says a spirit; " I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets." This is a fruitful lively expression of the thing that is taken up in Ephesians vi. It is beautiful to see the Spirit so at home in His own scriptures. He takes it up as a settled thing that Satan is in heaven. He does not make a difficulty, or a question about it. He assumes it as a thing scaled and accredited, and so takes it up. What does the Lord say? “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." This was not a mere honorary expression. Then, in Rev. xii., Satan is cast down from heaven. Satan and the principalities and powers are now in heavenly places.
But what do these wicked spirits do? They come down with all their wiles and lies and deceivings, to practise them in your heart and mine; as in Micaiah's vision, the lying spirit came down with a wile to Ahab; and again, as Satan tempts David to number the people. The Old and New Testaments are pregnant with all this. Paul says, “We are not ignorant of his devices;" and again, « Oh, full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil.” All these prove that He acts by wiles. He acts by violence, and by persecution also; but that is not contemplated here. If we go over the story of Satan in scripture, we shall find him an
Was he not an accuser of the brethren in the Book of Job? And is not the very same character attached to him in the book of the Apocalypse? Thus we now find ourselves put in the presence of the enemy.
I am in the war, and I can never get out of it, though I
may get out of the evil day. What then am I to do? I am to take the whole armour of God. And now I just ask you to inspect each part of this armour. Is there one single piece of that which is declared to be the armour of God fitted to send you out into a field of battle with flesh and blood? Is that the way He armed Joshua and David? They were to meet flesh and blood; and they were carnal weapons which He put into their hands. Now, there is not a touch of that here. There are no slings and stones and jaw-bones of asses; and this is declared to be the whole armour of God. If this is not the armour I have on me, I am not fighting for Christ. Saints may take carnal weapons; but if I do--if, for instance, I go into a court of justice to assert my rights, do not let me talk of being in the light of God. That is where dispensational truth is so important. I find, here, that the Spirit sends me into a field of battle, and I find that my security depends on truth, righteousness, faith, peace, and the sword of the Spirit. Now, supposing we were to describe a few of these wiles. Infidel heresies, superstitious vanities, evil doctrines, false expectations about the history of the world. We are not here in company with our lusts, but in conflict with direct attempts of the enemy. We must withstand the temptations of our hearts in walking through the world, as in chap. v. Here we are set face to face with Satan, the deceivableness of unrighteousness, doctrinal heresies; these are the things we are to withstand. And is it not perfectly right that, being delivered by the Seed of the woman, we should make our war with him who was our captor? How could you attach yourself to Jesus, and not turn round in the face of the enemy, and let him know that you are at war with him ? Having passed this fervent scene, we find that, having this armour on us, if a quickened condition of soul be not maintained in communion, the armour will be cumbrous, “Praying always ... and for me that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in bonds." Did you ever hear of such a thing as the ambassador of one nation being put in bonds by the nation to which he was sent? Why, God has fared worse in this world than
any nation in it would; and, pray, what message did this ambassador bring? A message of boundless grace. And that is the way He has been treated. The law of nations would not allow it for an instant. Yet that is the way God for. 1800 years, in the person of His servants and witnesses, has consented to be treated.
Then he tells them that he sends Tychicus, “That he may comfort your hearts." Oh, if we could be in that way !-in prison, yet able to comfort others. As dear Saunders, a clergyman in the Bishop of London's coal hole, sent to his wife, “Be merry, dear wife, be merry; we're all merry here. We weep with Him now, but we shall laugh with Him for ever.” That is equal to Paul, sending from a prison in Rome a cheering word to his brethren at Ephesus. What cannot the Spirit of God work!
The Lord grant that we may be taught by the doctrine, instructed in morals, and put in something of strength for the battle by this closing scene.—AMEN.
We talk of the land of the bless'd,
See the answer to the above at page 473.