One of the most fundamental things for a Christian to grasp is who they have become in Christ. We can easily see the benefits of being in Christ: eternal security through the forgiveness of sins, a relationship with the living God and the hope that sustains us through our earthy pilgrimage, but what is it that underpins it all? What is it that enables us to stand in a world with which we are at odds, and is often against us?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3)
The letter from Paul to the Ephesians is enormously encouraging for understanding the answers to these questions. Paul gets right to the heart of the matter in the opening statement of truth: that we are blessed, “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”. Three profound things emerge from this simple statement:
- Spiritual Blessings
- Heavenly Places
These three represent the theme of the whole letter. We learn that our spiritual blessings enable us to function and thrive in the heavenly places in which we have found ourselves once we are in-Christ. Don’t misunderstand me, we were always in the heavenly places, only now in-Christ we have the tools and the status to thrive there, and all because of what God achieved, through Christ, in obtaining our place there with Him.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6)
It may take some imagination to picture how this works, but we in fact, have little idea how the spiritual realm looks. Suffice to say that we are given the realms of time and space within which to function, as I don’t think we could cope with seeing the world as it really is, with its eternal reality and all its realms. It’s a measure of God’s grace to spare us that for now, and although we are ‘fitted for heaven’, and although one day we will see Him as He really is, we are still very much in the flesh at present.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
In the meantime, there is incredible strength and security to be found in understanding who we are in Christ. We live in the physical world, but the real work happens in the spiritual one. Some will take this idea to extremes, but angels, demons and God’s Holy Spirit are a spiritual reality which surrounds us. We mustn’t become overly worried about it, but we must understand that we have all that we spiritually need in-Christ, in these heavenly places.
We can take comfort from, being ‘spiritually’ where He is, because:
“He [God the Father] made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt against us and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the [spiritual] rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him [Jesus].” (Colossians 2:13-15)
Christ is seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly places; we are seated with Him; we are given every spiritual blessing there; we are given the tools to function and thrive there, chief among them being access to the throne room of heaven by prayer – since the battle (and it really is a battle) is a spiritual one and not against flesh and blood, we enlist God’s help by asking for it in prayer. But, having said that, we have been given Every Spiritual Blessing, along with the tools of warfare, to keep us and to help us to stand in a world which is very much against us.
“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13)
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
In this series on Ephesians, I will explore these spiritual blessings, the heavenly weapons we have to fight with and the reality of sitting, walking and standing in-Christ.
Some excellent material on Ephesians and our ‘sitting/resting’ in Christ: