January 31, 2011 by Dwight Bernier
In Ephesians 6, the passage that leaves all Sunday school teachers bound to send their students home wearing paper helmets, shields, breastplates & swords, Paul is telling us where our strength is found as we will be attacked. It’s so interesting that I remember all the armor (from my childhood), but I did not understand what this was actually used for.
In Ephesians 6.11 & 12, we find out that the reason we are to put on the entire armor of God is because Satan will attack us. Does anyone else have a hard time believing this? Doesn’t it seem more often than not that we should be putting on armor against the attacks from other people? But Paul clearly tells us that we aren’t wrestling against flesh & blood. This means that we aren’t at war with our co-workers, neighbors, family members – but instead against the rulers, authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, & the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. There is something much bigger going on than we can imagine. We are extremely naive to believe that if we could just get away from the “evil people”, the internet, cable, or whatever else you want to label “evil”, that we would no longer be influenced by evil itself. But what Paul is saying is that the spiritual side of it is going on all the time – where we can’t physically see. Lies are being spoken to us; lust is being brought back to our thoughts; envy of our neighbor are whispered in our ears; we are even told to do things that are absolutely contrary to what we believe and know we are called to do.
So, what does Paul tell us to do in order to be able to stand firm against these schemes of the devil?
First, he says ‘be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might’ (Eph. 6.10). Because of our position ‘in Christ’ (found in such places as Eph. 1.3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 12), we now have received a greater Spirit than the spirits that are at work in the world (Eph. 1.13, 14). We have the Holy Spirit that brings us back to trust that our strength to fight is in who God is (Most powerful) and what He’s done (defeated Satan and disarmed the rulers and authorities – Colossians 3.15). Our strength does not come from us – but from Him. We are not strong enough in ourselves to defeat Satan – but Jesus already has, and He gives us the power in Him to be strong and use the strength of His might.
How do we use His strength?
First, we stand firm. We don’t have to run from Satan or his demons. In fact, where can we run? But we can stand firm, knowing that God is with us and is for us. Romans 8 asks the question ‘Who can condemn’? The answer is that Jesus died in our place condemned, so that we can be righteous. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So, we can stand firm in Christ.
Second, we fasten the belt of truth. We call out what are lies and what is the truth. We must preach to our souls the truth of the gospel and against the lies that are spoken about who God is, what He’s done and who we are. The belt holds everything else up. If the belt is wrong, the rest of the armor will not work. This is true of the gospel. If we miss the gospel, then the rest of our lives will not fit together correctly. We will consistently be looking for the piece that would hold everything together rather than compartmentalizing all the tidbits of life. The gospel is truly the A to Z in Christianity and life.
Third, we wear the breastplate of righteousness. This is not something we earn, but something that was given to us. We put this on because of what Jesus has done. Jesus became sin and wore our proverbial breastplate of unrighteousness so that we might be the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5.21). We are made righteous before the Father because of what Jesus has done and we don’t need to believe the lie that we need to earn our righteousness or our standing before God. We can rest in His righteousness, which is now ours!
I will conclude this short series tomorrow.