As Mandy shared her thoughts about the development of this week’s worship and how she felt led to highlight that we are living on a higher plane, we are citizens of a greater reality, we are victorious as we travel through life, I began to mull that idea over. I felt compelled to investigate again what it takes for us to live victoriously in this life and I was led to some Scriptures in Ephesians and one verse in Colossians.
Ephesians 1:20-21 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet. . .”
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
As we begin, let me ask you a question. Where is Christ? He is seated at the right hand of God the Father. In Scripture the right hand is a place of authority. It is a place of honor, dignity and rulership. Not only is He at God’s right hand, but also He is above—far above “all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given.”
Those words, “rule, authority, power and dominion,” represent anything that could oppress you, distress you or possess you. They represent anything that would seek to come against you. Ephesians 1:22 highlights just how great Jesus’ authority is. It says “All things are under His feet.”
Now, based on the Scriptures we just read, if you are in Christ, where are you? You are in a place of honor! You are in a place of dominion! You are in a place of authority. In fact, you too, in Christ, are above “all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given.” Jesus said all authority in heaven and earth was His in Matthew 28. And if we are in Him and are seated with Him, we are in a position of authority as well. What then do we need to know and apply to our lives based on this truth?
The first thing I want to challenge you to do is to “STAY IN YOUR SEAT!” You’ve no doubt been to King’s Island and been on a ride where you have heard, “Please remain seated until the ride comes to a complete and final stop.” Maybe one of you students heard your bus driver say this week, “Get in your seat!” or “Stay in your seat.” Why? Because something unexpected could happen to cause you to lose your balance, fall and be injured in a way that wouldn’t have taken place had you been in a seated position.
Our ability to remember our position as seated in Christ and our willingness to rest in and remain in that seated position will be what determines if we will be victorious or not in regards to life’s daily battles. We all get jolted and tossed about daily. Therefore, we must remain in our seat in Christ so we don’t fall or get unnecessarily injured. As the people of God seated in Christ, we are to remain in that position and from that position we are to use Jesus’ authority to enable us to have victory in every area of our lives. Or as Warren Wiersbe has put it, “Let your earthly practices be worthy of your heavenly position.”
It may sound impossible to do, but I want to challenge you not only stay seated, but to stay seated while you walk.
If you peruse Ephesians 4 through Ephesians 6:9 you’ll see Paul’s challenge for us to walk or live in a certain way. You see, a victory walk will flow out of your position. If you are positioned in victory, if you are positioned in authority, then you walk through life in that “seated with Christ” position. I’m going to switch to the New King James translation in order to highlight the word “walk” in this part of the message. If you are using the NIV or another modern translation, you will see the word “live.” Where you see that word, “Live” just substitute the word, “Walk.”
1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We are to walk in unity! We see in these verses that because we are seated in Christ, we can walk in unity with each other. I can be committed to your best good. You can be committed to my best good because we recognize that together we have authority. Together we have power. We are seated in Christ TOGETHER. I’m not in competition with you to receive the crown of “Miss Spiritual Teays Valley.” I’m not in this thing called the Body of Christ to push an agenda or to climb some ladder. I’m here so that you can be better. You are here so that I can be better. And we are here together, ruling and reigning in Christ in order that through our united efforts, we can see the Kingdom of God advance in this Valley and beyond.
If I am seated in Christ, you see, I am secure in Him! I won’t be focused on what others think of me. Therefore, I won’t get my feelings easily hurt and break the spirit of unity with you. If I am seated in Christ, what He says about me is what matters and it’s what I rest in. I don’t get bent out of shape if something doesn’t go my way or if my efforts aren’t applauded or recognized. I stay in unity with the Body. My value and worth come from Christ alone. My confidence and my ability to love each of you is the result of a calling.
I’m called to love you like Jesus loves you because I am seated in Him. Yes, I know we have to put up with a lot from people from time to time. Why do you think Paul says we have to “bear with one another?” Do you not think that Jesus puts up with a lot out of us? We’re called to bear with one another just as He bears with us. He loves us in spite of our mood, in spite of our willingness to give 100% all of the time, in spite of our selfish desires, in spite of our failures, and in spite our short tempers.
We are called to bear with one another in love and as we do, we cover each other. We cover up the not so nice parts of each other. The Word says, “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8) When I walk in unity with you, I am committed to covering you.
If you get out of your seat and aren’t “in Christ” then you’re going to be easily offended. You won’t choose to overlook some of my flaws. You’ll allow your mood to dictate how you interact with me instead of being led by love.
We also see in chapter 4 that we are to walk in righteousness and holiness. Verse 17 says we aren’t to walk in the ways of the world, but (vs. 24) in righteousness and holiness. Because of our change in position where we are now seated with Christ, there is supposed to be a change in our behavior. Even in the earthly realm, although it doesn’t always happen, those who are higher up in authority are to be more dependable, trustworthy and to be people of integrity. Those in higher positions are expected to behave in a certain way. Likewise, our elevated spiritual position demands a change in our earthly behavior.
I said it last week. Jesus didn’t die so that we could be made better. He died so that we could be completely made new. We are no longer to follow the ways of man. We are no longer to process things through an earthly perspective or as verse 17 talks about the world “walking according to the futility of their mind.”
Let me remind you of Colossians 3:1-3. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
Your heart and your mind need to follow your position. Christ’s position is that He is above sin. His heart and mind always stayed anchored to His position. They stayed attached to who He was, the victorious and perfect Son of God. That’s why He lived without sin. He knew who He was and his heart and mind remained true to that identity.
Your heart and your mind need to find a seat with Christ as well. If not, you will always follow your gut. You’ll be led astray. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Your heart can’t be trusted.
I can’t tell you how many times I hear people say, “I’m just going to follow my heart.” “I’ll just go with my heart.” “I’ll just follow where my heart leads.” That may work for the selling of Hallmark cards, but it is horrible advice for us as Christians who are seated in Christ. You can’t follow your heart. You have to lead your heart and seat it above where Christ is seated and where you are seated in Him. Until your heart takes a seat above you will continue to wrestle with righteous living. You will continue to live to gratify yourself. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
You’ve heard the expression, “He has his heart set on it.” What does that mean? It means you are focused on something and pursuing that something with your behavior. I remember when Joshua said he wanted a snake. We told him flat out “no” multiple times, but his heart was set on getting a snake. Knowing snakes were a bit expensive and knowing money burns a hole in his pocket, we knew if we told him he’d have to save for a snake that he would never be able to do it. That boy scrimped and saved and put down all other pursuits, all other desires to buy “this or that” along the way because he had his heart set on buying a snake. The boy who couldn’t save five dollars saved $180.00 to become the proud father of Charlotte Hope Pratt, the snake that has resided in our home for the past year. You see, when he set his heart on something, his behavior changed to follow that pursuit! When you set your heart above, you begin to pursue behavior that resembles Christ’s!
Your heart has to be raised and seated with Christ because of what is inside of it. Listen to Mark 7:21-22 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. We’ve got to set our hearts above in an effort to disconnect them from all of the evil that appeals to our fleshly appetites. We can’t keep our hearts plugged in to the things of the world and think we’ll be able to walk righteously. We have to disconnect our hearts from the world and the flesh and the immediate and the earthly and plug them into Christ’s authority and victory. Our hearts need to be raised to a new life, just as our spirits have been raised.
Our hearts involve our emotions and impulses. We must exercise authority and power over both if we are going to walk in a righteous way. You could be given a great position of authority and power in your job, but if your heart isn’t in that position, you won’t exercise the authority and power you were meant to in the way you were meant to. Maybe that’s the trouble with many Christians. Their hearts just aren’t in the position. Their hearts aren’t set above. Their hearts aren’t devoted to following Christ alone. That’s why they aren’t mastering their emotions and impulses. They aren’t leading their hearts. They are following them and they aren’t being led heavenward.
Get your heart seated above so you can stay seated as you walk through this life.
Finally, stay seated as you stand.
Ephesians 6:10-14 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then. . .
Listen to me. You will only stay standing if you are truly seated first! You see, we are in a battle, and it’s not an earthly one. It’s a heavenly one, and it is an all-out war. It can’t be fought on an earthly plain. It has to be executed in the spirit realm in the Lord’s mighty power.
This passage in Ephesians tells us there are levels of evil. There is a hierarchy of evil to be dealt with, but remember, where is Christ seated? Ephesians 1:21 “Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” And if you are in Christ, then you too are far above the hierarchy of evil! You only need to stay seated as you stand against the evil that comes against us.
Oh God is looking for some Christians who know who they are in Him, who are living proof that they know who they are because they are walking in unity, righteousness and love. Their hearts are in it, and they are in it to win it! Their identity is so bound to Christ’s identity that they are willing to take on the very powers of darkness just like Jesus did. Why was Jesus so successful when it came to healing people, meeting their needs, raising the dead, walking on water, and seeing many people choose to follow Him? I believe it was because He exercised the authority necessary to cause Satan and the powers of darkness to loosen the grip they had on people as He encountered them.
With His very coming, He proclaimed, “It’s time for Satan to be dealt with. It’s time for captives to be freed. It’s time for the oppressed and the possessed to have their chains fall off and for people to be able to walk in newness of life.”
You walk with victory as your heart is seated above. But you stand in victory over Satan and the powers of evil as your mind is seated above. You see, Colossians 3:2 says it’s not enough to set your heart on things above, but you also have to get your mind there. “Set your mind on things above.”
Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” What are the devil’s schemes? The main way Satan comes against people is by attacking their mind. He lies to us. He deceives us. He whispers things to us to cause us to doubt. Listen, until you have victory in your mind, you will never have victory over the powers of darkness. Until your mind is seated above you will continue to struggle with the enemy.
Satan doesn’t have authority over you but what he does is create thoughts in your mind and when those thoughts get into your head and you accept them, they pave a road for Satan to get access into your life. That is why it is so important that we deal with our thought life and make sure our minds are seated with Christ at all times!
Ephesians 4:32 says we are to be made new in the attitude of our minds. Why does Satan want control of your mind? Because God is at work making it new. Romans 12:2 says we are to be renewed in our minds. If Satan can gain access to your mind, God can’t do His desired work.
Satan also wants access to your mind because he knows that once your mind is trained to think like Christ, nothing will be able to stop you! That’s why we read in II Cor. 4:4 that Satan’s tactic is to blind people’s minds to the truth.
II Corinthians 10:3-5-For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Because you are seated with Christ, you have authority to take every wrong and deceptive thought captive. You take it right to Christ and ask Christ to deal with it. Ask Christ to expose it. Ask Christ to remove it. Ask Christ to replace it with His truth.
If we were to put a bird in a cage it would be in captivity and would be there until we free it. If we were to leave the bird in the cage without ever feeding it, the bird would soon die. It is the same with our thoughts. We can capture them and starve them, but if we feed a thought it will keep growing-often times-out of control. That’s why we need to capture every thought and take it straight to Jesus. Otherwise, we feed it, ruminate on it, fantasize about it, and eventually act on it.
I love the emphasis on “standing” in Ephesians 6. We talk about “taking a stand,” and as Christians we are called to do just that. We are living in a time when false and ungodly arguments and pretensions abound. We’re living in a time when it’s more celebrated to be politically correct than biblically correct. Satan has introduced all kinds of foolish arguments into the dailyness of our culture to the point where people have now believed there is nothing wrong with abortion, it’s normal to have two dads or two moms, evolution is a fact, there are no absolute standards, all paths and all roads lead to heaven, multiple partners in marriage are alright as long as both parties agree, and the definition of integrity means you are tolerant of everyone’s lifestyles. Deception abounds. Those are arguments or pretensions that are setting themselves up against the knowledge of God.
Even inside the church, we aren’t always been diligent to take every thought captive. Rather than our thoughts obeying Christ, we try to make Christ fit in with our thoughts. We come up with things like, “It’s okay for Christians to live together without being married. Afterall, God wants us to be happy.” “It won’t hurt if I cheat on this exam. God knows I was busy this week and didn’t have time to study. I won’t make it a habit.” “If I only do something once in a while that displeases God, it’s not a big deal.” “Going to church doesn’t have to be a priority. God knows I love Him and that I only have one day to sleep in.” When we rationalize thoughts like that, it’s because we have bought into some kind of Satanic deception. We use phrases like, “It’s just a little white lie.” We make the determination that “We aren’t hurting anyone” and therefore it doesn’t matter if we are totally honest. All of those are compromises in our mind which will lead us to eventually be captured.
Let me illustrate. Someone new moves into your office building. Though you’ve been there for years, the newcomer gets picked for the promotion ahead of you. (You don’t know they have more education in the field and have been with the company longer, but just at another location.) In your hurt, you have an angry thought. You add to that angry thought an imagination. You start to think things like, “He probably paid the boss in order to get the promotion.” Or you assume there was something going on behind the scenes in order for this new employee to appear right on the scene at the time the opening in the office comes up. You just “know” something shady is going on. Before you know it, your imagination has run wild.
You distrust the new, now promoted employee and start gossiping about him in the office. Word gets around and gets back to the newcomer. His feelings are hurt. He doesn’t see how he can continue to work in an environment where people distrust him. He quits. Everything is traced back to your poor behavior. You are fired as a result. Caught. Captured. All because you didn’t arrest a negative thought.
Now you don’t just have a thought to deal with, but you have a stronghold to do business with. You fed a thought that was untrue by using your imagination and that imagination led you to act in an unkind, under handed, and divisive way. Now there is trouble in the office. Who do you think is kicking up his pointy little heels that there is drama and strife in your office?
God is asking for some people this morning who know who they are in Christ, who are walking according to that knowledge with their hearts set on Him who will give their minds completely to the truth of God’s Word and take a stand against the evil deception going on in our schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods every day.
I don’t hear the Apostle Paul say, “Tolerate the arguments. Tolerate the pretentions. Live and let live!” No! He says, “Demolish those arguments!” Don’t give in to them in your minds! Resist thinking that is contrary to God’s Word!
Like your heart, your mind will go where you lead it. Lead it to the Word of God. Saturate your mind with the Word of God. Fill it so full of truth that when deceptive thoughts come there is no room for them!
The best way to live in this world is to live above it. You have authority to take control over your heart and mind. You have authority over Satan and the forces of evil. Quit living like a victim. Quit living as if you are powerless. Sit down. Sit down in your authority. Walk in your authority. Stand in your authority! Whatever you do, please, remain seated!