CHAPTER 7: HOW TO “REIGN IN LIFE”?

image003

By Reginald Wallis

CHAPTER SEVEN

HOW TO “REIGN IN LIFE”?

We now come to the last of our talks, and the climax of the blessed experience of victory in Christ.

“For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Ro. 5:17).

This is something more than the possession of eternal life. It is “life more abundant” (Jn. 10:10). I see a sick young man in hospital. His cheeks are pallid, his eyes are sunken, and his pulse is low. Standing by him is a young man in all the robust vigor of healthy manhood. Each of these possesses life, but in one case it is only a matter of existence; in the other, there is life more abundant. Why should we be content to live in spiritual poverty, when God invites us to appropriate the unsearchable riches (Eph. 3:8)? Why should we be spiritual paupers when God’s banqueting house is open to us (Songs 2:4)? Why paddle in the surf when we are invited to “launch out into the deep” (Lk. 5:4)? Our Lord said, “He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (Jn. 7:37-38).

One day when Robert Annan from Scotland was speaking about heaven, one lady said: “I’ll be satisfied if I manage somehow to get in.” “What”, said Robert, pointing to a sunken vessel that had been dragged up the River Tay, “would you like to be pulled into heaven by two tugs, like that sunken ship was pulled in? I would like to get in with all my sails set and colors flying.”

Let us never be content with a half-blessed Christian experience or be like Ephraim, “a cake unturned” (Hos. 7:8)! God’s will is that every one of his children should live up to his income. Why wander in the wilderness when God invites us to journey through a land flowing with milk and honey (Lev. 20:24)? To be a “wilderness Christian” is to endure salvation rather than enjoy it. It means a fluctuating joy, a fickle experience, and frequently a lack of assurance. I would remind you that the victorious Christian life is not only the possession of eternal life but it is the accession to a throne. I want to quote to you two further translations of this same text (Ro. 5:17):

Weymouth: “For if through the transgression of the one individual, death made use of the one individual to seize the sovereignty, all the more shall those who receive God’s overflowing grace and gift of righteousness reign as kings in life through Jesus Christ.”

Moule: “For if in one transgression death came to reign through the one offender, much rather those who are receiving the abundance of grace and free gift of righteousness shall in life (life eternal begun now, to end never) reign over their former tyrants through the one, Jesus Christ.”

It was ever God’s purpose that man should be a creature of dominion. In Genesis 1 we find a beautiful symbol of the Church – the moon is called “the lesser light”. The Church is called to function as that “heavenly body” during the long period of spiritual night when the sun (the “greater light” – the Lord Jesus in his glory) is hidden from the eyes of men. Notice the verb which the Holy Spirit uses to describe this fact: “the lesser light to rule the night.” To rule suggests royal authority. It is a regal privilege. It suggests victory over every foe.

Then again, the purpose of the creation of man is stated very clearly in verse 26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’”.

Man was destined to be a creature of dominion. Let us, for the moment, take the three classes of creatures in earth, air, and sea as symbolical of the believer’s threefold enemy in the spiritual realm. God states: “Let them have dominion..!” Why the change from singular to plural? The next verse explains that they are “male and female”, which speaks to us of Christ and his Church (Eph. 5:32), jointly exercising dominion.

“The Head and Not the Tail”

Remember also the injunction and promise to Israel, “And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and not be beneath…” (Dt. 28:13). There you have the reigning life. “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood…”, says Peter (1 P. 2:9). This brings us to the heights of Christian experience – “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). That is your rightful position, my brother or sister. Marvelous truth! Even though we are “earthy” men and women, treading the dusty pathway of life, facing the problems of an earthly pilgrimage and up against the hard facts of life day by day, our spiritual position, here and now, is “in the heavenly places”. This means that we should manifest a heavenly life, radiate a heavenly joy, speak with heavenly language, conduct ourselves with a heavenly demeanor, and sing the heavenly songs. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). What a salvation, and what a position!

No flesh can enter that realm. “Reigning Christians” are not incessantly engaged in fighting “the flesh”. No, they have learned the blessed secret of crucifixion, and have been lifted by the Spirit into the glorified life – a new realm of conflict.

Their testimony becomes strategic in that sphere where the challenge of the evil one is a tremendous reality. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Eph. 6:12-13).

How the Lord is seeking those who will STAND with him in the conflict, and “reign in life” day by day. A carnal believer knows nothing of this. Jordan must first be passed if he wants to know the reality of Canaan conflict. No spiritually strategic life can be lived on the flesh level.

There must be a change of position. Position is power. I heard of a Frenchman who lived in England for some years and afterwards decided to become a naturalized Englishman. This happened not long after the decisive battle of Waterloo, when the French army under Napoleon was defeated by the English troops under Wellington. The Frenchman paid the necessary fee, transacted the customary procedure, and… became an Englishman. An old friend ran into him on the following day and said, “Well, it’s nice to know that now you are an Englishman, but frankly, I don’t see much difference in you”.  Said the one-time Frenchman: “Ah, but there is a big difference. Yesterday the battle of Waterloo was a defeat to this Frenchman; today it is a victory to this Englishman!” Yes, and he was right. His change of citizenship changed everything.

That is the heavenly life. A change of position and citizenship from the realm of the flesh into that of the Spirit. In that position, the Lord turns your “Waterloos” of defeat into “Waterloos” of Victory.

Where Do You Live?

The important question is – Where are you living? On which level do you normally reside? Are you experientially living in the “heavenly places” day by day? The Savior meant just that when He said, “Remain in me”. That means, “Stay where you are“. Positionally, you are there. Then remain in him, moment by moment. Hold your position by faith. The devil will seek along every subtle avenue to drag you down in spirit – down into depression, down under your circumstances or conditions. Fellow believer, your rightful position is on top (Songs 4:8). Refuse to come down.

This may necessitate an almost cold-blooded faith, even lifting you above your own feelings. Never be governed by your fluctuating feelings. What is true in regard to your salvation is also true regarding your sanctification. Feelings do not count. It is God’s FACT that matters. Assert and affirm your position by faith. I was much impressed some years ago, at a conference of Christians, to hear an aged missionary, recently home from the field, assert that she had often longed to know this heavenly position, but had never been able to get there – or, as she expressed it, to get “within the veil”.

One of the Lord’s counselors was led to take her to the Word at Ephesians 2:6. He explained that in the purpose of God, she was already there. This was God’s fact! There was no need to strive for a position that was hers already. “You are there; believe it, and take the position, by faith.” It was a joy to see the glow that came into her face, and her blessed release of spirit as she recognized that simple truth for the first time – after forty years on the mission field. It is not an act to be performed, or an ideal to be realized, but a fact to be believed. What a blessed realization!

When distributing tracts at a tiny village in the English countryside, far from the main roads, a Christian worker entered the home of animage023 elderly believer, eighty-four years of age, who lived alone. She really had no more than one room to call her own, and nothing of any value. Had everything been sold at an auction, it would not have fetched more than a few dollars. Wanting to cheer and comfort his aged friend, he remarked: “Well, Margaret, soon we shall have done forever with the trials and difficulties of life, we’ll be completely happy with our blessed Lord Jesus Christ up there.”

That’s my home, sir,” she said.

Realizing he had aimed too low, he tried again, with a view to helping her if possible:

“Yes, Margaret, soon we shall be in that bright home, the Father’s house above, with the Lord Jesus. We’ll be gathered around him, forever rejoicing in his presence.”

That’s where I live, sir,” was her bright and smiling reply.

Finding himself still sort of lagging behind, he hastened forward with quickened step, still trying to offer a little help and cheer to his advanced sister in Christ. “Won’t it be blessed, Margaret, when we and all the redeemed, from every clime and of every age, are gathered around the blessed One – the One who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood; and when we are praising him together in the glory forever!”

I sing there every night, sir,” was her awesome and joyous reply.

Unable to “help and comfort” her, he found it was she who cheered and helped him…

Set Free

Yes, a reigning life is practicable at all times and in all conditions. It is throne-union with Christ. It is the dominion of “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Ro. 8:2). This alone can liberate from the downward pull of the flesh.

image025Take another simple illustration. Imagine an airplane on the ground. It is held to the earth by the power of gravity, and is in captivity to that law. Then a pilot approaches, takes his position in that machine, and after some manipulation of levers, etc., that airplane is seen to move upwards and onward. Where is the law of gravity now? Is it abolished or suspended? Of course not. It is still there and is just as powerful as it was before. A new law, however, has taken possession of that machine – a law of life, power, and motion – with the result that it has been lifted above the law of gravity and released from its bondage. If that new law fails to dominate it, the old law again takes possession and down the machine comes to earth.

Now read Romans 8:2: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Hallelujah! This is the “Reigning life”. Such a life is pregnant with glorious possibilities. Here alone can be found true joy, heavenly wisdom, and spiritual authority.

The Lord would ask each of his children the question put by Jehu to Jehonadab, “‘Is your heart right, as my heart is toward your heart?’ And Jehonadab answered, ‘It is’.


Jehu said, ‘If it is, give me your hand’. So he gave him his hand, and he took him up to him into the chariot. Then he said, ‘Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord’. So they had him ride in his chariot
(2 K. 10:15-16).

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us (1 Jn. 3:21), let us put our own hands afresh into his pierced hand today, and be lifted into his heavenly chariot, to share his vision and zeal – there to remain moment by moment. This will mean a progressive transformation into his image (2 Co. 3:18), from glory to glory, and such a development into his blessed likeness that “we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 Jn. 2:28). May it be so!

Study Guide

What is the difference between being a defeated Christian and a Christian who “reigns in life”?

What passage in Romans declares this “reigning” life?

Why is dominion especially appropriate for human beings (Gn. 1:26)?

Where are believers now seated?

Of what kingdom are believers citizens?

Why does the nature of the believer’s conflict change when he “crosses the Jordan” (i.e. fully identifies with Christ)?

How does living by faith differ from living by feelings?

How does the law of aerodynamics illustrate the law of “the spirit of life in Christ Jesus”?

 image027

Romanos  8:37