Sonship Indestructible in Itself - The Work of satan to Nullify Its Power
But the point that I want to get at and emphasize is this, that because it is a spiritual thing, it is something which interests satan in a particular way. Being exclusively of God and being wholly spiritual, it is something which, shall I say, tantalizes satan; it is a case of tremendous annoyance ad grievance to him. He cannot get at this thing directly, it is beyond him. You notice that in the Word of God there is no denial from any realm that there is such a being as the Son of God or as the Christ. There is no denial; that is recognized, acknowledged and accepted everywhere. There is a denial that Jesus is the Son of God, but the fact of sonship as a reality in God's universe is never questioned. antichrist is not the denial of the existence of Christ, but the counterfeiting of Christ: and that is a tremendous admission, a tremendous acknowledgment. If you counterfeit something, it is your way of admitting that there is something real. You do not counterfeit if there is not the genuine thing. You see my point. There is something in God's universe which is never questioned or denied, but which is an established thing, which cannot be touched as a reality, and that is sonship. To get at that - well, anything can be done to nullify it in its effect - but the fact is there, and it is that fact which is satan's aggravation and annoyance, the fact of the existence of this sonship, in God's universe, and that sonship has invaded and come into his domain. There is sonship right in the very domain of satan, in the kingdom of this world, this world which "lieth in the wicked one." Sonship has invaded and come into it; and there is a fact which cannot be destroyed, it is inviolate in itself.
Oh, lay hold of this! Sonship which satan cannot destroy in itself. Sonship, is something inviolate, lying outside of satan's realm and satan's power. What then is the nature of the battle? Oh, satan is not so foolish as to think that he can destroy sonship as a fact, but all his efforts and methods are employed to nullify the effect of it as he can, as he will, in his domain. After this manner, therefore, he started with the last Adam - "If thou be the Son ..." The sting is in that "if." If only the Lord Jesus would admit an "if," satan has scored, and while the sonship is not destroyed, the effect of it in his kingdom is.
That can be put in another way. Admit a doubt, admit a question, and you are undone, and the thing which in itself is inviolate is put under the arrest with regard to its effect against satan. Doubt, unbelief, a question, an uncertainty, suspends the tremendous potency of sonship as against the enemy, even though the sonship position cannot be destroyed. If satan can find a people here who believe on the basis of sonship, and persist in believing, and refuse to doubt and question, he has found sonship there which corresponds to what he found in Christ, Who said, "The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in Me" (John 14:30). Hath nothing! What is he looking for? The ground of a question or a doubt, is what he is after, and he found nothing.
So the faith you see, is faith which is reposed in God's Son and which makes that sonship a mighty power in the one who believes.
Now, what are we saying is that the existence of this thing called sonship is the occasion of all the conflict because it is something which in itself is beyond satan's power, and unless in some way its effect in his kingdom is neutralized, it is going to be his ultimate expulsion and undoing. Let us say again that, lying right there at the heart of sonship, is no less a thing than the ridding of this universe of satan and his kingdom. That is the issue of sonship. Therefore let us look at the nature of sonship. What is it? It is a life in the Spirit. satan will constantly try to provoke unto a life in the flesh. A life of dependence: then satan will try to make us independent. A life of humility, meekness, drawing wholly upon the the Lord for everything: then satan will try to provoke us to pride, to have it in ourselves, to be something ourselves, to care for our reputation, to fight for our own vindication. Remember that every tendency, inclination or attempt to secure our vindication - we may be right, but that is not the question - anything in the direction of securing our vindication is against sonship. "He made Himself of no reputation" (Phil. 2:7). He did not seek to vindicate Himself or to be vindicated. He left the matter of vindication altogether with God, and became obedient unto death, yea, the death of the Cross. "Their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord" (Isaiah 54:17). Oh, for this grace of self-emptying, seeking no title, no name, no reputation, no vindication, no justification for ourselves. It cuts the ground from under the feet of the enemy, robs him of that which he needs to save his own position and to nullify the effect of Christ's presence. Let us ask the Lord for that grace of selflessness, and of joyful acceptance of a life of dependence upon the Lord in terms of daily resurrection. That is the way of sonship. It makes room for the Lord and for the fullness of Christ.
I think perhaps we could very well close there just now. Do not forget that satan is out to bring the effect of sonship under arrest in his kingdom. He cannot destroy it, that is something beyond his power, but he can nullify its power so far as his interests are concerned, and he does that by trying to get us to violate the very laws of sonship. Those laws of sonship we have mentioned. They are shown in the life of the Son Himself so clearly - nothing in Himself, but dependence upon the Father, altogether dependent upon the Father. A life in which the law of resurrection is a daily and hourly operation and experience, a life without personal name, reputation, standing or vindication, a life wholly handed over to God, these and many other things comprise sonship, and are the marks of a life in the Spirit.
The Lord make us good son for His own glory and satisfaction.
(Next: "The Liberty of Sons")