OUR BLESSINGS IN CHRIST (Part 1)

What or where are the heavenly places that Paul wrote about?

WE ARE BLESSED

Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church is one of the most exciting books of the NT, because in it he lays out the full mystery of the Gospel. In this first section Paul gives what might be considered a summation of the Gospel before he goes into specific details about certain aspects of our salvation.

Let’s read Eph. 1:3-14 (ESV)—

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

In that long passage we are given 8 reasons to praise God—8 things that He has done for us or given us for which we should be grateful—

  1. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (v. 3)
  2. He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world (v. 4)
  3. He predestined us for adoption as sons (v. 5)
  4. Redemption through His blood (v.7)
  5. The forgiveness of our trespasses (v.7)
  6. Made known to us the mystery of His will (v. 9)
  7. We have obtained an inheritance (v. 11)
  8. Sealed with the Holy Spirit (v. 13)

That’s quite a list! Have you ever taken the time to just meditate on each of these, thinking about the depth, the grandeur of the blessings we have in Christ?

NUMBER ONE—God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

Every spiritual blessing. What does that mean? What are those blessings? They are not enumerated for us. We are just told that we have them.

Peter gives us a little better insight in his 2nd letter — (2Pe 1:3 ESV) 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

We have been given ALL things that pertain to life and godliness. The word “life” refers to the quality of life, not just the ability to take a breath, eat and play. It means the fulness of life that we have in God.

That fact that you are alive is a gift from God. And everything you need to make that life the best it can be has been given you by God. Now, maybe you have not yet accessed the fulness of that gift. Maybe you are not living life as full as you would want; but that is not God’s fault. He has placed everything you need within you. It is up to you to use it. The gifts are there. There are probably some you have yet to open.

Everything you need to live a godly life has also been given to you. What is godliness? What does it mean to be godly? Well, what does it mean to be manly? It means to be like a man. What does it mean to be womanly? It means to be like a woman. Godly means to be like God.

Godliness is a Godward orientation of life that is expressed in thoughts, feelings, attitudes, speech, and action. Godliness should characterize our lives as believers.

We have been blessed with every possible spiritual blessing. We have been given everything we need to live a godly life on this planet. Each of us is different, so each of us has different gifts for our different purposes; but each of us has everything we need. There is no shortage of anything in God

Eph 1:3 …blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places

The verse in Ephesians goes also says that we are blessed with these blessings in heavenly places. Okay. Whoopee. What does that mean? Does that mean all these blessings are stored up in heaven somewhere waiting for me to get them when I die?

Not even close. We have already seen that these blessings are for this life that we are now living. So being in the heavenly places cannot be some place removed from here for some future time.

The English word “heavenly” occurs 32x in the English Standard Version; 23x in the KJV. It is used to refer to things in heaven as we understand it. It is also used to refer to God as in when Jesus says many times, “heavenly Father.” It refers to the natural heavens above us which contain the sun, moon and stars. But, it also refers to our minds.

Your thinker is one of the heavenly places mentioned in scripture. It is not plainly stated as such, though. This only comes by revelation, so come along with me on this.

[Eph 6:12 ESV] 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Where does most of your warfare take place? With what are you wrestling? Is it not your thoughts? Are your challenges not first encountered within your mind? You begin to think about something and pretty soon you are going down a dark path.

Is this not what Paul referred to when he talked about not being able to do what he wanted? He ended up doing that which he did not want to do. There is warfare in our minds.

Where do you find worry? In your mind, right? Where do you find doubt? In your mind. What about confusion, depression, anger and feelings of condemnation? These all occur in the mind. Each of these—all of these—are attacks on the mind.

So, where are the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places?” They are in the mind.

For too long we have been trying to do battle with a devil “out there” somewhere, when the reality is that the battle is happening between our ears. Consider 2 Cor. 10:3-5—

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Yes. We have been given every spiritual blessing we need to be successful in the Christian life. We lack nothing—except maybe a correct understanding of all that is involved.

I will close by showing you two of the weapons of our warfare of which Paul spoke.

[Psa 19:14 ESV] 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Let this become your prayer. Meditate on the thought. Do this daily, and in less time than you realize things will begin to change for you. While you are at it, meditate on this verse also. —

[Phl 4:8 ESV] 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

PRAYER
Lord, my Peace-bringer, my mind is often far from peaceful and in great turmoil as if controlled by someone else. You have said that you would keep us in perfect peace as we keep our minds on you. I know that I need to be tethered to You for my flesh not to have control. Please help me engage with Your Word and keep my mind fixed on You. I need the promised perfect peace that only You can give. Help me to take control of my mind so that I can experience Your peace. Amen.

Spiritual Weaponry

Last week we looked at “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” from Ephesians 5:10.

One thing that we know is pleasing to the Lord is when we live according to His Word.

Psa 138:2 ESV – I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

In this sixth chapter of Ephesians, we have a clear statement of the Word that most Christians give assent to, but do not realize its outworking.

Eph 6:12 ESV – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 We readily admit that we are at war with an unseen enemy. We readily admit that “though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
(2 Cor. 10:3-4)

But, what is our practice?

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but we will picket a store of ill-repute.

The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but we will march against abortion.

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but we will quickly sue for justice in a court of law.

The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but we will start a campaign against the pastor.

We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but we readily accept a diagnosis of some sort of “disorder.”

The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but we will join in every e-mail or letter-writing campaign against something offensive.

Am I saying that these things do no good? Not at all!

But, do they really change things? Hardly at all.

What are the weapons of our warfare? How are we to defeat the schemes of the enemy?

Only through personal discipline.

The weapons of our warfare require that we be a disciplined people; that individually we are each a disciplined person.

Returning to 2 Corinthians, lest us consider what Paul says about how we are to defeat the spiritual powers in high places: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (ESV).

While this may be considered a proof for the necessity of apologetics, it is a word for all believers–not just those skilled in logic and rhetoric. We each–YOU–are to destroy arguments and opinions in your own mind and life that come against the knowledge of God.

That means you must have a discipline of, for, and in the Word of God.

This “Blogged Bible Study“, for which I am writing, is being sponsored by some brothers who emphasize this aspect of our relationship with the Lord. Their theme is Philippians 4:8–“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV)

The major emphasis from this verse  is think about these things. What do you allow your mind to entertain? It takes personal discipline to keep your mind focused, to keep it on the things listed in verse 8.

It is in that place where you will begin to experience some of the power of using your spiritual weaponry.

 NOTE: This is the sixth in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Ephesians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter six of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.