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Saturday, April 5, 2014

"Sit, Walk, Stand" by Watchman Nee

Preface to the Fourth Edition

Compiled from the spoken ministry of Mr. Watchman
Nee (Nee To-sheng) of Foochow and first published
in Bombay, Sit, Walk, Stand continues to stir
the hearts of readers with its arousing message.
Although through successive editions the book has
been slightly expanded, all the source material dates
from a single period—the spacious days of evangelistic
witness in China just prior to the Japanese war,
when the author and his fellow Christians enjoyed a
liberty in the service of God that is rare today. A
message which expresses at once their triumphant
assurance in the finished work of Christ and their
humble sense of the high qualities called for in his
servants has a fresh relevance for us now, when
Christian work everywhere is on trial. May God give
us grace not only to heed its challenge but to find
ways, while there is time, of applying its lessons in
our own sphere of opportunity.
Angus I. Kinnear
London, 1962


If the life of a Christian is to be pleasing to God, it
must be properly adjusted to him in all things. Too
often we place the emphasis in our own lives upon
the application of this principle to some single detail
of our behavior or of our work for him. Often we
fail, therefore, to appreciate either the extent of the
adjustment called for or, at times even, the point
from which it should begin. But God measures
everything, from start to finish, by the perfections
of his Son. Scripture clearly affirms that it is God’s
good pleasure “to sum up all things in Christ . . . in
whom also we were made a heritage” (Ephesians
1:9-11). It is my earnest prayer that, in the discussion
that follows, our eyes may be opened afresh to
see that it is only by placing our entire emphasis
there that we can hope to realize the divine purpose
for us, which is that “we should be unto the praise of
his glory” (1:12).

We shall take as a background to our thoughts
the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians.
Like so many of the apostle’s letters, this
epistle falls naturally into two sections, a doctrinal
and a practical. The doctrinal section (chapters 1 to
3) is concerned mainly with the great facts of the
redemption which God has wrought for us in Christ.
The practical section (chapters 4 to 6) then goes on
to present us with the demands, in terms of Christian
conduct and zeal, that God is making upon us in
the light of that redemption. The two halves are
closely related, but it will be seen that the emphasis
in each is different.

Then, further, the second and more obviously
practical half of the letter may again conveniently
be subdivided according to its subject
matter into a first long section from chapter 4:1 to
6:9 and a second and much shorter section from
chapter 6:10 to the end. The first part deals with
our life in the midst of the world; the second with
our conflict with the devil.
Thus we have, in all, three subdivisions of the
Epistle to the Ephesians, setting forth the believer’s
position in Christ (1:1–3:21), his life in the world
(4:1–6:9), and his attitude to the enemy (6:10-24).

We may summarize as follows:


A. Doctrinal (Chapters 1 to 3)
1. Our Position in Christ (1:1–3:21)
B. Practical (Chapters 4 to 6)
2. Our Life in the World (4:1–6:9)
3. Our Attitude to the Enemy (6:10-24)

Of all Paul’s epistles, it is in Ephesians that we find
the highest spiritual truths concerning the Christian
life. The letter abounds with spiritual riches, and yet
at the same time it is intensely practical. The first
half of the letter reveals our life in Christ to be one
of union with him in the highest heavens. The second
half shows us in very practical terms how such
a heavenly life is to be lived by us down here on the
earth. We do not here propose to study the letter in
detail. We shall, however, touch on a few principles
lying at its heart. For this purpose we shall select one
keyword in each of the above three sections to
express what we believe to be its central or governing

In the first section of the letter we note the
word sit (2:6), which is the key to that section and
the secret of a true Christian experience. God has
made us to sit with Christ in the heavenly places, and
every Christian must begin his spiritual life from
that place of rest. In the second part we select the
word walk (4:1) as expressive of our life in the world,
which is its subject. We are challenged there to display
in our Christian walk conduct that is in keeping
with our high calling. And finally, in the third part
we find the key to our attitude towards the enemy
contained in the one word stand (6:11), expressive
of our place of triumph at the end. Thus we have:

Key Words in Ephesians

1. Our Position in Christ—“SIT” (2:6)
2. Our Life in the World—“WALK” (4:1)
3. Our Attitude to the Enemy—“STAND” (6:11)
The life of the believer always presents these three
aspects—to God, to man, and to the Satanic powers.
To be useful in God’s hand a man must be properly
adjusted in respect of all three: his position, his life,
and his warfare. He falls short of God’s requirements
Sit, Walk, Stand, if he underestimates the importance of any one of
them, for each is a sphere in which God would express
“the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on
us in the Beloved” (1:6).

We will take, then, these three words—“Sit,”
“Walk,” “Stand”—as guides to the teaching of the
epistle, and as the text for its present message to our
hearts. We shall find it most instructive to note both
the order and the connection in which they come.

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” (1:17-21).
“And raised us up with him, and made us to sit with
him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus: . . . for by grace
have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory”

“God . . . made him to sit . . . and made us to sit
with him.” Let us first consider the implications of
His word “sit.” As we have said, it reveals the secret
of a heavenly life. Christianity does not begin with
walking; it begins with sitting. The Christian era
began with Christ, of whom we are told that, when
he had made purification of sins, he “sat down on the
right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).
With equal truth we can say that the individual
Christian life begins with a man “in Christ”—that is
to say, when by faith we see ourselves seated together
with him in the heavens.

Most Christians make the mistake of trying to
walk in order to be able to sit, but that is a reversal
of the true order. Our natural reason says, If we do
not walk, how can we ever reach the goal? What can we
attain without effort? How can we ever get anywhere if we
do not move? But Christianity is a queer business! If at
the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing; if
we seek to attain something, we miss everything.
For Christianity begins not with a big DO, but with
a big DONE. Thus Ephesians opens with the statement
that God has “blessed us with every spiritual
blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3) and
we are invited at the very outset to sit down and
enjoy what God has done for us; not to set out to try
and attain it for ourselves.

Walking implies effort, whereas God says that
we are saved, not by works, but “by grace . . . through
faith” (2:8). We constantly speak of being “saved
through faith,” but what do we mean by it? We mean
this, that we are saved by reposing in the Lord Jesus.
We did nothing whatever to save ourselves; we simply
laid upon him the burden of our sin-sick souls. We
began our Christian life by depending not upon our
own doing but upon what he had done. Until a man
does this he is no Christian; for to say, “I can do nothing
to save myself; but by his grace God has done
everything for me in Christ” is to take the first step in
the life of faith. The Christian life from start to finish
is based upon this principle of utter dependence upon
the Lord Jesus. 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.

What does it really mean 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. We
grow weary when we walk or stand, but we feel rested
when we have sat down for a while. In walking or
standing we expend a great deal of energy, but when
we are seated we relax at once, because the strain no
longer falls upon our muscles and nerves but upon
something outside of ourselves. 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.

This was God’s principle from the beginning.
In the creation God worked from the first to the
sixth day and rested on the seventh. We may truthfully
say that for those first six days he was very busy.
Then, the task he had set himself completed, he
ceased to work. The seventh day became the Sabbath
of God; it was God’s rest.

But what of Adam? Where did he stand in relation
to that rest of God? Adam, we are told, was
created on the sixth day. Clearly, then, he had no
part in those first six days of work, for he came into
being only at their end. God’s seventh day was, in
fact, Adam’s first. 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. Moreover it was because God’s
work of creation was truly complete that Adam’s life
could begin with rest. And here is the Gospel: that
God has gone one stage further and has completed
also the work of redemption, and that we need do
nothing whatever to merit it, but can enter by faith
directly into the values of his finished work.
Of course we know that between these two
historic facts, between God’s rest in creation and
God’s rest in redemption, there lies the whole tragic
story of Adam’s sin and judgment, of man’s unceasing,
unprofitable labor, and of the coming of the Son
of God to toil and to give himself until the lost position
was recovered. “My Father worketh even until
now, and I work,” he explained as he pursued his
way. Only with the atoning price paid could he cry,
“It is finished!”

But because of that triumphant cry, the analogy
we have drawn is a true one. Christianity indeed
means that God has done everything in Christ, and
that we simply step by faith into the enjoyment of that
fact. Our key word here is not of course, in its context,
a command to “sit down” but to see ourselves as
“seated” in Christ. Paul prays that the eyes of our heart
may be enlightened (1:18) to understand all that is
contained for us in this double fact, that God has first
by mighty power “made him to sit,” and then by grace
“made us to sit with him.” And the first lesson we
must learn is this, that the work is not initially ours at
all, but his. It is not that we work for God, but that he
works for us. God gives us our position of rest. He
brings his Son’s finished work and presents it to us,
and then he says to us, “Please sit” (ch’eng tso). 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.

The Range of His Finished Work

From this point onwards Christian experience proceeds
as it began, not on the basis of our own work
but always on that of the finished work of Another.
Every new spiritual experience begins with an
acceptance by faith of what God has done—with a
new “sitting down,” if you like. This is a principle of
life, and one which God himself has appointed; and
from beginning to end, each successive stage of the
Christian life follows on the same divinely determined

How can I receive the power of the Spirit for
service? Must I labor for it? Must I plead with God
for it? Must I afflict my soul by fastings and self-denials
to merit it? Never! That is not the teaching
of Scripture. Think again: How did we receive the
forgiveness of our sins? Paul tells us that it was
“according to the riches of his grace,” and that this
was “freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (1:6-7).
We did nothing to merit it. We have our redemption
through his blood, that is, on the ground of what he
has done.

What, then, is God’s basis for the outpouring
of the Spirit? It is the exaltation of the Lord Jesus
(Acts 2:33). 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. 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. Hence, just as
there is no need to wait for the initial experience
of salvation, so there is no need to wait for the
Spirit’s outpouring. Let me assure you that you
need not plead with God for this gift, nor agonize,
nor hold “tarrying meetings.” It is yours not because
of your doing but because of the exaltation of
Christ, “in whom, having also believed, ye were
sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” This, no
less than the forgiveness of sins, is contained in “the
gospel of your salvation” (1:13).

Or consider another subject, one that is a special
theme of Ephesians. How do we become members
of Christ? What fits us to be parts of that Body
which Paul speaks of as “the fullness of him”? Certainly
we never arrive there by walking. I am not
joined to him by effort of my own. “There is one
body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in
one hope of your calling” (4:4). Ephesians sets forth
what is. It starts with Jesus Christ, and with the fact
that God chose us in him before the foundation of the
world (1:4). When the Holy Spirit shows us Christ
and we believe in him, then at once, with no further
act on our part, there begins for us a life in union
with him.

But if all these things become ours by faith
alone, what then of the now very urgent and practical
matter of our sanctification? How can we know
present deliverance from sin’s reign? How is our “old
man,” who has followed us and troubled us for years,
to be “crucified” and put away? Once again the secret
is not in walking but in sitting; not in doing but in
resting in something done. “We died to sin.” We
were baptized . . . into his death.” “We were buried
with him.” “God . . . quickened us together with
Christ.” (Romans 6:2-4; Ephesians 2:5, kjv). All
these statements are in the past (aorist) tense. Why
is this? Because the Lord Jesus was crucified outside
Jerusalem nearly two thousand years ago, and I was
crucified with him. This is the great historic fact. By it
his experience has now become my spiritual history,
and God can speak of me as already having everything
“with him.” All that I now have I have “with
Christ.” In the Scriptures we never find these things
spoken of as in the future, nor even to be desired in
the present. They are historic facts of Christ, into
which all we who have believed have entered.
“With Christ”—crucified, quickened, raised,
set in the heavenlies: To the human mind these ideas
are no less puzzling than were the words of Jesus to
Nicodemus in John 3:3. There it was a question of
how to be born again. Here it is something even
more improbable—something not only to be
effected in us, as new birth, but to be seen and
accepted as ours because it has already been effected
long ago in Someone else. How could such a thing
be? We cannot explain. We must receive it from
God as something he has done. We were not born
with Christ, but we were crucified with him (Galatians
2:20). Our union with him began therefore
with his death. God included us in him there. We
were “with him” because we were “in him.”
But how can I be sure that I am “in Christ”? I
can be sure because the Bible affirms that it is so, and
that it was God who put me there. “Of him [God]
are ye in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:30). “He
that establisheth us with you in Christ . . . is God”
(2 Corinthians 1:21). It is something accomplished
by him in his sovereign wisdom, to be seen, believed,
accepted, and rejoiced in by us.

If I put a dollar bill between the pages of a
magazine, and then burn the magazine, where is the
dollar bill? It has gone the same way as the magazine—
to ashes. Where the one goes the other goes
too. Their history has become one. But, just as effectively,
God has put us in Christ. What happened to
him happened also to us. All the experiences he met,
we too have met in him. “Our old man was crucified
with him, that the body of sin might be done away,
that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin”
(Romans 6:6). That is not an exhortation to struggle.
That is history: our history, written in Christ before
we were born. Do you believe that? It is true! Our
crucifixion with Christ is a glorious historic fact.
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.

But it is true that we know all too little of this
in experience. Consider an example. If someone
makes a very unkind remark about you in your
presence, how do you meet the situation? You compress
your lips, clench your teeth, swallow hard, and
take a firm grip upon yourself; and if with a great
effort you manage to suppress all sign of resentment
and be reasonably polite in return, you feel you have
gained a great victory. But the resentment is still
there; it has merely been covered up. And at times
you do not even succeed in covering it. What is the
trouble? The trouble is that you are trying to walk
before you have sat down, and in that way lies sure
defeat. Let me repeat: No Christian experience
begins with walking, but always with a definite sitting
down. The secret of deliverance from sin is not
to do something but to rest on what God has done.
An engineer living in a large city in the West
left his homeland for the Far East. He was away for
two or three years, and during his absence his wife
was unfaithful to him and went off with one of his
best friends. On his return home he found he had
lost his wife, his two children, and his best friend.
At the close of a meeting which I was addressing,
this grief-stricken man unburdened himself to me.

“Day and night for two solid years my heart has been
full of hatred,” he said. “I am a Christian, and I know
I ought to forgive my wife and my friend, but though
I try and try to forgive them, I simply cannot. Every
day I resolve to love them, and every day I fail. What
can I do about it? ” “Do nothing at all,” I replied.
“What do you mean? ” he asked, startled. “Am I to
continue to hate them? ” So I explained: “The solution
of your problem lies here, that when the Lord
Jesus died on the Cross he not only bore your sins
away but he bore you away too. When he was crucified,
your old man was crucified in him, so that that
unforgiving you, who simply cannot love those who
have wronged you, has been taken right out of the
way in his death. God has dealt with the whole situation
in the Cross, and there is nothing left for you
to deal with. Just say to him, “Lord, I cannot love
and I give up trying, but I count on thy perfect love.
I cannot forgive, but I trust thee to forgive instead of
me, and to do so henceforth in me.”
The man sat there amazed and said, “That’s all
so new, I feel I must do something about it.” Then a
moment later he added again, “But what can I do? ”
“God is waiting till you cease to do,” I said. “When
you cease doing, then God will begin. Have you ever
tried to save a drowning man? The trouble is that his
fear prevents him trusting himself to you. When
that is so, there are just two ways of going about it.
Either you must knock him unconscious and then
drag him to the shore, or else you must leave him to
struggle and shout until his strength gives way before
you go to his rescue. If you try to save him while he
has any strength left, he will clutch at you in his terror
and drag you under, and both he and you will be
lost. 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.”
My engineer friend jumped up. “Brother,” he
said, “I’ve seen it. Praise God, it’s all right now with
me! There’s nothing for me to do. He has done it all!”
And with radiant face he went off rejoicing.

God the Giver

Of all the parables in the Gospels, that of the prodigal
son affords, I think, the supreme illustration of
the way to please God. The father says, “It was
meet to make merry and be glad” (Luke 15:32),
and in these words Jesus reveals what it is that, in
the sphere of redemption, supremely rejoices his
Father’s heart. It is not an elder brother who toils
incessantly for the father, but a younger brother
who lets the father do everything for him. It is not
an elder brother who always wants to be the giver,
but a younger brother who is always willing to be
the receiver. When the prodigal returned home,
having wasted his substance in riotous living, the
father had not a word of rebuke for the waste nor a
word of inquiry regarding the substance. He did
not sorrow over all that was spent; he only rejoiced
over the opportunity the son’s return afforded him
for spending more.

God is so wealthy that his chief delight is to
give. His treasure-stores are so full that it is pain to
him when we refuse him an opportunity of lavishing
those treasures upon us. It was the father’s joy that
he could find in the prodigal an applicant for the
robe, the ring, the shoes, and the feast; it was his
sorrow that in the elder son he found no such applicant.
It is a grief to the heart of God when we try to
provide things for him. He is so very, very rich. It
gives him true joy when we just let him give and give
and give again to us. It is a grief to him, too, when
we try to do things for him, for he is so very, very
able. He longs that we will just let him do and do and
do. He wants to be the Giver eternally, and he wants
to be the Doer eternally. If only we saw how rich and
how great he is, we would leave all the giving and all
the doing to him.

Do you think that if you cease trying to please
God your good behavior will cease? If you leave all
the giving and all the working to God, do you think
the result will be less satisfactory than if you do
some of it? It is when we seek it ourselves that
we place ourselves back again under the Law. But the
works of the Law, even our best efforts, are “dead
works,” hateful to God because ineffectual. In the
parable, both sons were equally far removed from
the joys of the father’s house. True, the elder son was
not in the far country, yet he was only at home in
theory. “These many years do I serve thee, and yet
. . .”: His heart had not found rest. His theoretical
position could never, as did the prodigal’s, come to
be enjoyed by him while he still clung to his own
good works.

Just you 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. “God, being rich in
mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us . . .
made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in
Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). “It was meet to
make merry and be glad!”

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois
Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
Visit Tyndale’s exciting Web site at www.tyndale.com
TYNDALE and Tyndale’s quill logo are registered trademarks of
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Sit, Walk, Stand
Copyright © 1957 by Angus I. Kinnear. All rights reserved.
Previously published in 1957 by Gospel Literature Service, Bombay,