Choosing to Stand

Many years ago I read a slim little book by a Chinese pastor known as Watchman Nee. It was a study of of the Biblical book of Ephesians. It is called Sit, Walk, Stand, and I have referred to it many times since.


He points out that the first three chapters of Ephesians focus on what God has done for us through Jesus. We are told that God predestined us to be adopted by Himself through Jesus (Ephesians 1:5). That He’s given us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our future inheritance until we acquire possession of it (Ephesians 1:13-14). That we have been saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). That we are no longer strangers and aliens but members of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19). That Christ is ready to dwell in our hearts (Ephesians 3:17). And these are a mere fraction of what all is stated to be ours in the first three sections.

Pastor Nee calls these the SITTING chapters. All that God has done for us is laid out, and we simply have to learn to rest or SIT in what has been set into motion. There are really no commands or directions given to obey here. We are called to believe and trust — which of course is not always easy.


The fourth and fifth sections of Ephesians are called the WALKING chapters. Here we are told what we need to do to live out all that God has done for us — the behavior that shows up in those who have learned how to SIT. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We are to put off our old selves and be renewed in our minds (Ephesians 4:22-23). We are to not let the sun go down on our anger (Ephesians 4:26). We are to no longer steal, make sure our words give grace to those who hear us, let go of bitterness and anger, be kind, and make sure how we express our sexuality pleases God. Whew! And there is much more to digest in these chapters.

There are a lot of things we are told to do! Some are difficult, and others seem down right impossible. But it’s the order of these chapters that is also important. SITTING (and believing) in what God has done for us is foundational for WALKING (or doing) those things He expects from His children. According to Pastor Nee, we have to learn to SIT before we can effectively WALK. Otherwise our religious activity is meaningless and empty religious actions can be harmful. Many times, we get these mixed up and emphasize the WALKING (doing the right stuff) without any idea of why or understanding of all that has been done for us. Of course, we can also just SIT in what God has done for us and do nothing in response, living the way we always have. And that is deadly to our faith as well.

Definitely something to think about.


But then we come to the end of the book. Chapter 6 is where we are told to STAND. This is not referring to being motionless or unengaged. It is describing the posture we are to maintain when we face opposition, difficulties, and outright warfare with unseen powers. We are called to remain alert and upright, as opposed to crumpled on our faces, giving up in defeat.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to STAND against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11 ESV).

An online dictionary defines STAND as a determined position or attitude that is taken or maintained. Followers of Jesus talk about spiritual warfare. And for some people, all kinds of strange images of screaming at demons and erratic behavior come to mind with this phrase. I do not believe this scripture is necessarily referring to beating up the devil. It is declaring that followers of Jesus can resist and need not back down to forces of fear, oppression, evil and darkness. In other words, we can maintain a posture and attitude of obeying God regardless whatever difficulties, pain, doubts, troubles are thrown at us.

How do we successfully STAND and not give up? According to Pastor Nee, SITTING and WALKING are foundational to STANDING. It is important to note that spiritual warfare language in chapter six comes after the believing and the doing in chapters one through five. To effectively resist spiritual forces of evil, one must first be resting in all that God has done for His children through Jesus. And in addition, we must then be responding to all His goodness with our obedience. Engaging in these two activities give us the capacity to win spiritual battles.

Living Unwaveringly

If you are in a fight with the devil, how do you know when you’ve won? It has little to do with how you may or may not feel. It doesn’t mean that your voice gets louder, your prayers feel extra powerful, or that your worship has a little more zing in it. It has everything to do with your posture. Are you still doing what God asked you to do, holding on to His goodness and whatever He has already told you, no matter what your circumstances may or may not feel like at that moment? That is what brings Him honor and where our victory ultimately lies. That is what it means to STAND.

We are blessed in that if or when we do get knocked down and feel like giving up, God is still ready to let us come and SIT in all that He has done for us. He still invites us into the opportunity to WALK out our faith. And He still offers us the strength to STAND against the waves of pressure that urge us to give up.

STANDING in the face of troubles, doubts, opposition, temptation, and fear is a choice. The Book of Ephesians lays out a pathway for successfully holding our ground as Jesus followers. We do not have to be tossed to and fro by the waves of what others think of us nor carried about by every fearful thought that passes through our heads. (Ephesians 4:14). We can STAND.


  • Have I read through the entire book of Ephesians? What’s stopping me from doing that right now?
  • Where do I waver in my faith? What have I done recently to strengthen my faith? What keeps me from meditating on God’s word?
  • What does it mean for me to SIT in what God has done for me (Ephesians 1-3)?
  • How much have I emphasized obedience to Christ in my faith? What instructions in Ephesians 4 and 5 do I struggle with? What can I do to grow in these areas?
  • Jesus, what do you want to give me that will enable me to STAND against all that is coming against me?

One Comment on “Choosing to Stand

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