Learning from Ephesians and the 23rd Psalm (Part Three)
"Keep looking down" - it doesn't sound like good advice, does it? Surely, we should be saying, "Keep looking up"!
Let me share with you Paul's words from Ephesians 2:6 - "He raised us up with Him, and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
We are seated with the Lord in the heavenly places. From there, we look down on everything that's happening here on earth. This isn't about trying very hard to keep looking up. It's about believing that God has seated us in the heavenly places. From there, we look down on life on this earth. We see the big picture. We're not bogged down in our circumstances. We've been raised up to the heavenly places. This isn't about our striving. It's about God's salvation. It's not about us. It's about our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
When we read about "still waters" (Psalmn 23:2), we're not only reading about peaceful waters" We're reading about dangerous waters. Still waters can mean stagnant waters. When we see stagnant waters, we wonder what dangers lie beneath the surface.
From the standpoint of being seated with Christ in the heavenly places, we look down on a world filled with many dangers. Remembering that we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places, we keep things in the proper perspective - the perspective of certain victory.
What is the alternative to certain victory? - confusion and defeat.
How can we move forward victoriously rather than retreating in confusion and defeat? - We must have both realism and faith.
With realism, we recognize that there will be conflict and danger. It will not always be peaceful waters. There will also be dangerous waters.
When we rejoice in the greatness of God's love (Ephesians 2:4), we must not forget what we are in ourselves (Ephesians 2:1-3), and we must not forget that there is a devil (Ephesians 2:2).
With faith, we affirm that, in Christ, we have the victory. We shall not be dragged down into the stagnant waters. We shall be renewed by the Living Water, which is the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39).
We need realism and faith - not an unrealistic faith which imagines that the Christian life will be easy; not an ubelieving realism which resigns itself to losing the battle for faith.
We see this combination of realism and faith in both Jesus and Paul.
(a) Jesus - "led by the Spirit ... tempted by the devil" (Luke 4:1-2).
(b) Paul - By "the riverside ... a place of prayer / going to the place of prayer ... (opposed) by a spirit of divination" (Acts 16:13,16).
The salvation experience - salvation that lasts, not salvation that's past - goes on to moral transformation (Ephesians 2:10) and heavenly glory (Ephesians 2:7).
Salvation - It's not standing still. It's moving beyond stagnant water to living water. It's moving on to our heavenly rest in the Lord, who is "the fountain of living water" (Jeremiah 17:13).