The Christian in Complete Armour (97)

 To stand, amounts to as much as, to stand every one in his rank and proper station, and here is opposed to all disorder, or straggling from our place. When a captain sees his soldiers march, or fight our of their rank and order, then he bids stand. Military discipline is so strict in this case, that it allows none to stir from their place without special warrant. It hath cost some their lives for fighting out of their place, though with great success.

It should be the care of every Christian, to stand orderly in the particular place wherein God hath set him. The devil’s method is first to rout, and then to ruin. Order supposeth company, one that walks alone cannot go out of his rank. This place therefore and rank wherein the Christian is to stand, relates to church, country, and family. In all there are several ranks and places. In the church, officers and private members; in the commonwealth, magistrates and people; in the family, masters and servants, parents and children, husband and wife. The welfare of these societies consisteth in the order that is kept—when every wheel moves in its place without clashing, when every one contributes by performing the duty of his place to the benefit of the whole society. But more distinctly, a person then stands orderly in his place when he doth these three things—

The Christian in Complete Armour (96)

Third reason we must resist.

The Christian’s safety lies in resisting.

All the armour here provided is to defend the Christian fighting, not to secure him flying.  There is no armour on the back to protect the coward!  ‘The just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.’Heb. 10:38. Better to die sword in hand than be executed under God’s wrath.

Fourth reason.

Satan can only be dealt with by resisting. God is an enemy that is overcome by yielding; the devil only by force of arms.
1. He is a cowardly enemy. Though he sets a bold face on it by tempting, he carries a fearful heart in his breast. As a thief is afraid of every light he sees, or noise he hears, in the house he would rob, so Satan is discouraged where he finds the soul waking, and in any posture to oppose him. He fears you, Christian, more than you him; ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know,’ Acts 19:15; that is, I know them to my shame, they have both put me to flight, and if ye were such as they, I should fear you also. Believe it, soul, he trembles at thy faith. Put it forth in prayer to call for help to heaven against him, and exert it vigorously by rejecting the motions he makes, and thou shalt see him run. The Spirit  knows well enough what goes on in the devil’s camp—sends this intelligence unto every soul that is beleaguered by temptations,‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,’ James 4:7. He cannot hurt us without our leave. No way to be rid of him but to shut the door upon him, and deny all discourse with him; which prompts to the second character.

2. He is an encroaching enemy, and therefore to be resisted. ‘Let not the sun go down upon your wrath,’ saith the apostle, ‘neither give place to the devil,’ Eph. 4:26,27. By yielding in one temptation we let the devil into our trench, and give him a fair advantage to do us the more mischief. The angry man while he is raging and raving, thinks that to ease his passion by disgorging it in some bitter keen words, but alas while his fury and wrath is sallying out at the portal of his lips, the devil finding the door open, enters and hurries him farther than he dreamt of.  Our best way, therefore, is to give him no hand-hold, not so much as to come near the door where sin dwells, lest we be hooked in. If we mean not to be burned, let us not walk upon the coals of temptation;—if not to be tanned, let us not stand where the sun lies. They surely forget what an insinuating wriggling nature this serpent hath, that dare yield to him in something, and make us believe they will not in another—who will sit in the company of drunkards, frequent the places where the sin is committed, and yet pretend they mean not to be such?—that will prostitute their eyes to unchaste objects, and yet be chaste?—that will prostitute their eyes to unchaste objects, and yet be chaste?—that will lend their ears to any corrupt doctrine of the times, and yet be sound in the faith? This is a strong delusion that such are under.

3. He is an accusing enemy. What a tell-tale the devil is, by yielding to his temptation, you give him ammunition with which he may accuse you to God. Take up therefore holy Job’s resolution, ‘My righteousness I hold fast,…my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live,’ Job 27:6.  Conscience, not the devil, is the bloodhound that pulls down the creature. O let not that reproach thee, and thou art well enough.

 

The Christian in Complete Armour (95)

We stand because God furnisheth us with armour for this end, that we should stand valiantly, and not yield to Satan tempting.

To deliver up a castle into an enemy’s hand, when it is well provided with ammunition to defend it, is shameful and unworthy of such a trust. This makes the Christian’s sin more dishonourable than another’s, because he is better appointed to make resistance.

An unbeliever when solicited,  to a sin that promiseth carnal pleasure, or profit, it is no great wonder that he yields at first summons, and delivers himself up prisoner to Satan because he has no armour, he has no interest in Christ. What marvel is it, if his hungry soul, for want of better food, falls on board upon the devil’s cheer?—that he, who hath no hope for another world, like a goat, must browse where she is tied, and the sinner feed on earth and earthly things, to which he is staked down by his carnal heart; but the Christian hath a hope in his bosom of glory,  and treasures his relationship with the Father and heaven’s joys—it being the nature of that grace to give existence to the good things of the promise. This helmet on and shield lift up, would keep off a whole shower of such arrows from hurting the Christian.

The Christian in Complete Armour (95)

The command is expressly stated : ‘Whom resist steadfast in the faith,’ I Peter 5:9.  And “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. Set yourselves in battle against him, as the word imports, fight him whenever he comes.  When Joab sent Uriah to stand in the forefront of the battle, in the face of death itself, he could not but see his danger, yet he disputes not the matter with his general; obey he must, though he loses his life upon the place.  To resist some temptations may cost us dear: ‘Ye have not yet
resisted unto blood,’ saith the apostle, ‘striving against sin,’ Heb. 12:4, implying that it may come to that, and if it should, [that] it alters not the case, nor gives a dispensation to shift for ourselves by choosing to sin rather than to suffer. The soldier carries his prince’s honour into the field with him, and so doth the Christian his God’s, whenever he is called to contest with any temptation. O, how unworthy is it then, to expose the name of God to reproach, rather than ourselves to a little scorn, temporal loss, or trouble! It was Pompey’s boast, that at a word or nod of his, he could make his soldiers creep up the steepest rock on their hands and knees, though they were knocked down as fast as they went up. Truly, God is not prodigal of the blood of his servants, yet sometimes he tries their loyalty in hard services, and sharp temptations, that he may from their faithfulness to him, and holy stoutness in their sufferings for him, triumph over Satan, who was so impudent as to tell God, that one of his choicest servants did but serve himself in serving him, ‘Doth Job fear God for nought?’—as if, when any sharp encounter came, he would turn head, and rather curse God than submit to him. And therefore, we find the Lord glorying over Satan, ‘Still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him,’ Job 2:3—as if the Lord had said, ‘What dost thou think now, Satan? hath not Job proved thee a loud liar? I have some servants, thou seest, that will serve me without a bribe, that will hold fast their integrity, when they can hold fast nothing else. Thou hast got away his estate, servants, and children, and yet he stands his ground, and thou hast not got thy will of him, nor his integrity from him.

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“Stand therefore,

The Position to be maintained in the Fight.
‘Stand therefore’,having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;” Eph 6:14

The apostle had laid down in general, ver. 13, what armour the Christian
soldier must use—armour of God.  To show what this whole armour of God is, describing it piece by piece, which together make up the complete suit, and every way furnish the Christian to take the field against this his enemy, we shall handle them in that order we find them here laid by the apostle. This standing is a military expression, a word of command that captains use upon different occasions to their soldiers, and so imports several duties that are required at the Christian’s hands.

[The necessity of resisting Satan’s temptations, with the danger of yielding to them.]
To stand, is opposed to a cowardly flight from, or treacherous yielding to, the enemy. When a captain sees his men beginning to shrink, and perceives some disposition in them to flee or yield, then he bids stand; that is, stand manfully to it, and make good your ground against the enemy, by a valiant receiving his charge, and repelling his force. The word taken thus, points at a suitable duty incumbent on the Christian, which take in this note. We are to resist Satan…

 

The Christian in Complete Armour (93)

What it means to stand at the end of our conflict.

To stand at the end of this war will abundantly recompense all our hazard and hardship endured in the war against sin and Satan. A glorious reward
there is for every faithful soldier in Christ’s camp.

First. To stand, in this place, is to stand conquerors. An army, when
conquered, is said to fall before their enemy, and the conqueror to stand. Every Christian shall at the end of the war stand a conqueror over his vanquished lusts, and Satan that headed them. Satan shall be trodden down under our feet (Rom.16:20).

Second. To stand, is here to stand justified and acquitted at the great day of judgement.  ‘The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,’ Ps. 1:5, that is, they shall not be justified. ‘If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?’

Third. To stand, as the compliment of their reward—denotes the saints’ standing in heaven’s glory.  Now such honour shall every faithful soul have.
‘Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge….I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by,’ Zech. 3:7. Shall the joy of heaven which is set before the Christian, into which he shall assuredly enter, make him run his race, endure a short scuffle of temptation and affliction? yea sure, and make him reckon also that these ‘are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in him.’

The Christian in Complete Armour (92)

Abuse of the doctrine of the perseverance or preservation of the saints: Two ways this doctrine may be abused.

1. It may be into a neglect of duty.

2. Into a liberty to sin.

Take heed of both.

1. Take heed of falling into a neglect of duty upon this score—if a Christian,
thou canst not fall away from grace.
(1.) A constant vigorous performing of duty should not be motivated by the fear of falling away. The Christian treasures communion with his Heavenly Father and every duty is a mount wherein God presents himself to be seen and enjoyed by the Christian.
(2.) To neglect duty upon such a persuasion, is contrary to Christ’s practice
and counsel. Though Christ never doubted of his Father’s love,
nor questioned the happy issue of all his temptations, agonies, and sufferings, ye he prays, and prays again most earnestly, Luke 22:44. he states, ‘But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.’ Sure our Saviour by this provision made for him and the rest, means to save them a labour that they need not watch or pray? No such matter. After this, as you may see, ver. 40, he calls them up to duty—‘pray that ye enter not into temptation.’ Christ’s praying for them was to strengthen their faith, when they should themselves pray for the same mercy; not to nourish their sloth that they needed not to pray, Christ’s prayers in heaven for his saints are all heard already, but the return of them is reserved to be enclosed in the answer God sends to their own prayers.

Doesn’t his mercy (toward his people) endure for ever? (Psalm 136).

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I used to argue till I was “blue in tha face” with the Arminians on the O.M. Ship Logos who believed a true Christian could fall away and be lost! Hear Gurnall, ” The ark stood in the midst of Jordan, till the whole camp of Israel was safely got over into Canaan, Joshua 3:17, and so doth the covenant, which the ark did but typify. Yea, Christ, covenant and all, stand to secure the saints a safe passage to heaven. If but one believer drowns, the covenant must drown with him; Christ and the saint are put together as co-heirs of the same inheritance. ‘If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,’ Rom. 8:17. We cannot dispute against one, but we question the firmness of the other’s title. When you hear [that] Christ is turned out of heaven, or that he is willing to sell his inheritance there; then, poor Christian, fear thy coming thither, and not till then!” Amen!

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To believe you can fall away :

 1. Derogatory to God’s design in the gospel-covenant, which we find
plainly to be this, that his children might be put into a state sure and safe. Rom. 4:16, ‘Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed.’ So those who by faith should be adopted into Abraham’s family, and  become a child of the promise, should not fail of inheriting the blessing of the promise, which is eternal life; called so, Titus 1:2, and all this because the promise is founded upon grace, that is, God’s immutable good pleasure in Christ, and not upon the variable and inconsistent obedience of man, as the first covenant was.

2. Reflects sadly on Christ’s honour, both as he is intrusted with the saints’
salvation, and also as he is interested in it. First. As he is intrusted with the
saints’ salvation. He tells us they are given him of his Father for this very end,
that he should give them eternal life; yea, that power which he hath over all
flesh, was given him to render him every way able to effect this one business,
John 17:2. He accepts the charge, owns them as his sheep, knows them every one, and promiseth he ‘will give them eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of his hand,’ John 10:27,28. Secondly. As he is interested in the salvation of every saint. The life of his own glory is bound up in the eternal life of his saints.  Christ and his saints make but one Christ, for which his church is called Christ.  ‘As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ,’ I Cor. 12:12. Christ and his members make one Christ. Now is it possible that a piece of Christ can be found at last burning in hell? The church is called the ‘fulness of him,’ Eph. 1:23. O how dishonourable is it to Christ, that we should think he shall want any of his fulness! and how can the man be full and complete that wants a member?

3. Wounds the saints’ comfort to the heart, and lays their joy a bleeding.
This principle of saints falling from grace gives a sad dash to the sweet wine of the promises. We have ‘the sure mercies of David,’ Acts 13:34—mercies that
shall never fail. This, this is indeed wine that makes glad the heart of a saint.Though he may be whipped in the house when he sins, yet he shall not be turned out of doors; as God promised in the type to David’s seed. ‘Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail,’ Ps. 89:33; and ver. 36, ‘his seed shall endure for ever.’ Could anything separate the believer from the love of God in Christ or eat up the joy of his present hope. The contrary to such a frame of heart is  the
spirit of adoption, and [to the] full assurance of hope which the grace of the new covenant gives.

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Why we shall persevere:

Christ’s intercedes for us. ‘I have prayed,’ saith Christ to Peter, ‘that thy faith fail not.’ Does Christ pray for us? yea, doth he not live to pray for us? O how can children of so many prayers, of such prayers, perish? And if the weak prayers of saints, coming in his name, have such credit in heaven,  what prevalency has Christ’s intercession, who is a Son, an obedient Son, that is come from finishing his great work on earth, and now prays his Father for nothing but what he hath bid him ask; yea, for nothing but what is ordained. Say not thy weak faith shall perish, till thou hearest that Christ hath left praying.Third. Because Satan cannot pluck the believer out of the hands of God. How can he overcome thee, that cannot tempt thee but in God’s appointed time? No one-angel or human can pluck us from God’s hand!

So to recap, the three reasons a believer can and will persevere and never be lost are:

  1. The earnest of the Spirit.
  2. The intercession of Christ.
  3. The power of God.