That Moment When Most Christians Blow It — Lessons from Watchman Nee’s Classic “Sit, Walk, Stand” — The Path To Christian Maturity — Part One: SIT
“Now that I’ve trusted in Christ for my salvation, what do I need to do?”
That’s the moment when most Christians blow it.
That seems fast, doesn’t it, but it doesn’t take us long — or at least it didn’t take me long.
If I’d read Watchman Nee’s book, Sit, Walk, Stand, when I first came to Christ, I might not have blown it so much.
I’m positive I still would’ve blown it some because, even after knowing what to do, the actual doing of it, can be confusing at first. Certainly, my learning curve would’ve been shorter.
If I’m confusing you, hang in there. It’ll make sense in the end.
Watchman Nee’s Sit, Walk, Stand: The Process of Christian Maturity is a brilliant and thought-provoking book.
It covers the three major themes in the book of Ephesians and answers the question, “Now that I’ve trusted in Christ for my salvation, what do I need to do?”
This book has so impacted me, I wanted to share, over the next three posts, a look at these three main points as Watchman Nee explains them, as well as my own personal thoughts on these truths.
Now, back to my original statement:
The moment most Christians blow it is when they ask, “Now that I’ve trusted in Christ, what do I need to do?”
We blow it because, from the beginning, we’re focused on what we must DO, when we need to be focused on what has already been DONE.
“For Christianity begins not with a big DO, but with a big DONE.” (pg. 12)
It’s all of our trying and doing that knocks us off course and leads us to failure and discouragement. We need to first grasp the truth that everything has been done already.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” (Ephesians 1:3)
God “has blessed us,” as in past tense — not present or future, but past.
God has already given us everything we need — every spiritual blessing in Christ.
As Christ said in John 19:30, “It is finished.”
If we don’t understand that, we’ll jump up from our seated position with Christ in the heavenly places and rush off to do and become, but we’ll fail and not understand why.
“Christianity does not begin with walking; it begins with sitting.” (pg. 11)
And thus, we come to the first theme that Watchman Nee points out:
“The God of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . raised Him from the dead, and made Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. . .” (Ephesians 1:17-21)
“And raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him in the heavenly place, in Christ Jesus: . . . For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory.” (Ephesians 2:6-9)
From the very beginning, God has been teaching us to sit before we walk.
When God created the world, He created the whole world before He created man.
What was left for man to do to help God complete creation?
God gave him the task to name the animals, but Adam had no part in creating the animals.
Adam, created on the 6th day, lived his first full day on the 7th — the day God had appointed for rest.
“Whereas God worked six days and then enjoyed His sabbath rest, Adam began his life with the sabbath; for God works before He rests, while man must first enter into God’s rest, and then alone can he work.” (pg. 13)
What about Eve?
What part did Adam have in creating Eve?
He slept through the whole thing.
God put Adam into a deep sleep, and when Adam awoke, there she was, ready to receive and enjoy the world God created.
From the very beginning, God taught us to sit before we walk.
We see it in our salvation even.
Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches we’re saved by God’s grace through faith — not by our works.
We didn’t do anything to earn our salvation. We merely believed and received what Christ completed on the cross to save us from our sin.
To try and add anything to what Christ did is foolish.
It’s not “Christ + good works” or “Christ + baptism.”
It’s not “Christ + anything else.”
It’s Christ alone.
As we began, we must continue.
“The Christian life from start to finish is based upon this principle of utter dependence upon the Lord Jesus.” (Pg. 12)
Think about what it really means to sit down.
“When we walk or stand, we bear on our legs all the weight of our own body, but when we sit down, our entire weight rests upon the chair or couch on which we sit.” (pg. 13)
So how does this concept of “sitting” translate into the spiritual realm?
“So also in the spiritual realm, to sit down is simply to rest our whole weight — our load, ourselves, our future, everything—upon the Lord. We let Him bear the responsibility and cease to carry it ourselves.” (Pg. 13)
A friend of our family, Peter Axelson, found himself in 1975 plunging off the side of a mountain in a climbing accident. He’s lived every day since his recovery in a wheelchair as a paraplegic.
If Peter tried to bear the weight of his body and rejected a chair of any sort, he’d exhaust himself trying to do for himself.
However, as Peter has rested the weight of his body in his wheelchair, he’s moved forward in life and accomplished more than some even dream of ever accomplishing.
Whether he’s in his wheelchair at the desk of his highly successful firm Beneficial Designs, swooshing down the slopes on his sit-ski that he designed (and on which he won many ski championships), or behind the wheel of his pilot’s seat on his private plane, Peter has learned the secret to walking by first sitting.
Tragically, others who’ve suffered a similar accident have never embraced that they must sit, and thus never enjoy an attitude of rest. Instead, they battle against their condition and live embittered lives, feeling like they’re now only “half a man.” They spend their lives merely existing, never satisfied.
This, too, is the fate of many Christians.
They strive to live the Christian life, only to fail time and again.
They don’t understand why they’re continually discouraged while others seem to flourish.
(We’ve all met grumpy Christians. We’ve probably been one, too.)
They feel God has cheated them, or, perhaps, that they’re just not “that kind of Christian” — the kind that will ever get to live a full, happy life.
(I’ve had more than one person say this to me, until they learned this truth.)
Their problem isn’t God or Christianity.
It’s that they never learned to sit before they tried to walk.
“There is no limit to the grace God is willing to bestow upon us. He will give us everything, but we can receive none of it except as we rest in Him.
‘Sitting’ is an attitude of rest.
Something has been finished, work stops, and we sit. It is paradoxical, but true, that we only advance in the Christian life as we learn first of all to sit down.” (pgs. 12-13)
God wants to do for us and give to us. He wants us to depend on Him for everything.
“His offer to us cannot, I think, be better expressed than in the words of the invitation to the great banquet:
‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ [Luke 14:17]
Our Christian life begins with the discovery of what God has provided.” (Pg. 15)
Perhaps we’re ready to accept that Christ has already given us everything we need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3), but even here, most of us are prone to say, “Thanks, God, for all You’ve given me. I’ll take it from here.”
We can’t imagine that God wants to continue doing everything for us — that He must do everything for us.
It seems almost rude to us to allow Him to continue doing all, while we continue to take and take from Him.
It may even threaten our self-esteem to be so needy.
We can help God, we think.
We should help God, we think.
Ephesians 3:20 begs to differ.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us”
According to our power?
According to God’s power at work within us, not with us.
Not alongside us, but within us.
It’s God’s power — His Spirit — working in us that causes the unimaginable to happen.
Think about this:
What did you do to receive the Holy Spirit?
“Because Jesus died on the cross, my sins are forgiven; because He is exalted to the throne, I am endued with power from on high. The one gift is no more dependent than the other upon what I am or what I do.” (Pg. 15)
Do you see the continued pattern?
“I did not merit forgiveness, and neither do I merit the gift of the Spirit. I receive everything not by walking, but by sitting down; not by doing, but by resting in the Lord.” (pg. 15)
Perhaps you can see how that works when life is smooth, but what does this look like when the bills are piling up and life is unraveling?
“We were not born with Christ, but we were crucified with Him (Galatians 2:20).” (pg. 17)
Think about what this means. We were “with Christ” on the cross because we were “in Him.”
Watchman Nee compares this to taking a dollar bill and placing it inside a magazine.
If you burned the magazine, what happened to the dollar?
Everything that happened to the magazine, because the dollar was in the magazine.
“Our union with Him [Christ] began therefore with His death. God included us in Him there. We were “with Him” because we were “in Him.” (I Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 1:21) (pg. 17)
God placed us in Christ, and thus, whatever happened to Christ, happened to us.
This is very important and exciting.
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6
That truth removes the struggle from us.
“Our deliverance from sin is based not on what we can do, nor even on what God is going to do for us, but on what He has already done for us in Christ. When that fact dawns upon us, and we rest back upon it (Romans 6:11), then we have found the secret of a holy life.” (Pg. 18)
Yes, Watchman Nee is saying that a life of struggle doesn’t have to be our destiny.
We won’t stop being human, nor did our old sin nature that demands to have its way disappear, so the temptation to worry, become angry, be prideful, etc. will rise. (Paul discusses this thoroughly in Romans 6-8).
Being tempted isn’t our problem, though. Acting on the temptation is.
But there is hope — and not just hope, but assurance — through Christ and in Christ.
We rest back upon the truth that we’ve already been fully delivered from the power of sin over us because Christ defeated sin and death on the cross.
Because we were crucified with Him and His Spirit lives in us, we have the same power at work in us.
We merely need to remain seated and let Christ live His life through us while we rest in our position seated in Him.
It’s like He’s our bodyguard. When we face a struggle, His Spirit, who lives in us, rises to act. Don’t get in His way.
Watchman Nee shows how this looks practically.
A friend said to him that he struggled to forgive someone. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t.
Surely we all can relate to that.
We try, but we can’t forgive this person.
We try, but we can’t love them.
Of course, we can’t.
That’s not what we’re called to do.
We’re called to let Christ forgive them and love them through us.
We can’t, but He can, and He has.
Out of Christ’s perfect love, He’s already forgiven that person. He already settled that issue on the cross.
EVERYTHING has already been settled on the cross.
Not everything has been set right (Satan still roams), but it’s been settled (Satan has no power over the Christian than what the Christian gives him.)
“If I forgive that person, they’ll get away with the horrible thing they’ve done!” we say. “That’s not fair!”
We say we just want justice, but as my wise friend, Billie Jo, said, “No we don’t. Not really.”
Justice demands we pay the penalty for our own sin. Oops!
We don’t want justice — we want revenge.
We must let their offense go already because it’s already been settled on the cross.
I know you can’t, but remember: He can, and He has.
Give up trying to forgive and love.
Instead, rest in Christ, who will do it.
If you’re not experiencing this reality in your life, it’s most likely because you haven’t stopped trying.
As Watchman Nee explained it to his friend:
“God is waiting till you cease to do,” I said. “When you cease doing, then God will begin.” (Pg. 20)
He then compared his friend to a drowning man.
You can’t save a drowning man until he stops struggling, otherwise he’ll drag you down with him.
“God is waiting for your store of strength to be utterly exhausted before He can deliver you. Once you have ceased to struggle, He will do everything. God is waiting for you to despair.” (pg. 20)
You can’t create love or forgiveness, but you can let Christ’s love and forgiveness flow through you.
When you’re ready to stop fighting and start allowing Christ to lavish His love, forgiveness, and power in you, you’ll find that you don’t have to conjure up feelings of love and forgiveness. They’ll naturally flow out of the generous abundance Christ wants pour into you.
God shows us this truth in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Notice that when the younger son returned to his father, having wasted all his inheritance on wild living, the father didn’t question him about where he’d been or where the money had gone.
“He did not sorrow over all that was spent; he only rejoiced over the opportunity the son’s return afforded him for spending more.” (pg. 20-21)
What an incredible thought!
“God is so wealthy that His chief delight is to give . . . It is a grief to the heart of God when we try to provide things for Him . . . when we try to do things for Him.” (Pg. 21)
The older son couldn’t be happy at his brother’s return because his heart had never found rest in his father’s love.
He’d spent his whole life trying to be the giver, doing good works for his father to earn his father’s favor, instead of resting in and enjoying his father’s love all those years.
If he’d realized that his brother’s return didn’t diminish his wealth or his father’s love for him one iota, he may have happily joined in on the celebration.
“What about me?!” was his heart’s cry.
If only he’d seen that his father had already given him everything he needed and longed to lavish even more on him.
What was he really missing?
Nothing, but a restful heart, content in his father’s love.
“. . . stop ‘giving,’ and you will prove what a Giver God is! Stop ‘working,’ and you will discover what a Worker He is! The younger son was all wrong, but he came home, and he found rest — and that is where Christian life begins.” (Pg. 22)
So are we never to do anything ever?
“It cannot be too strongly emphasized that all true spiritual experience begins from rest. But it does not end there.
Though the Christian life begins with sitting, sitting is always followed by walking.” (pg. 23)
We’ll look at that important step next.
Click the photo to view Part Two: Walk:
Have you, like me, gotten it backwards and tried to walk before having sat?
Have you tried to do for God instead of simply receiving and enjoying what He’s already done for you?
What has God taught you about sitting that may help the rest of us better understand this paradoxical truth?
Leave a comment, and let’s get a conversation going.
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