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Thursday
September 19th, 2019

gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron

 

Today we conclude a study of Ephesians, a letter written by the Apostle Paul and circulated among churches in Asia Minor. In the early chapters, Paul spent a lot of time writing about unity, breaking down barriers, and interpersonal relationships. This last portion of scripture includes a benediction and personal greetings, along with some strong words to help all believers realize the extraordinary attack going on around us. 

Using the analogy of warfare in a spiritual context, the passage describes multiple forms of armor and one weapon. First, though, Paul obviously felt it was important that those battling know the enemy. Curtis Vaughn wrote, “In military strategy the failure to estimate properly the strength and capabilities of an enemy is a tragic mistake.” He continues that Christians are engaged in life-and-death struggle, not against a frail human enemy but supernatural evil. And for those who feel they live in a special, protected place, Paul defines the battle as taking place “in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12). 

Paul said the forces behind what may seem a human threat are supernatural. A fight against them requires not human strength, but divine might and protection. Finally, however, the battle is the Lord’s, and the victory will also belong to God. 

Verses 11-13 lay out the whole evil cosmic structure of an enemy engaged in defeating Christ’s followers. Writers in the Old Testament recognized the stakes. “How blessed is he who considers the helpless; the Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble. The Lord will protect him and keep him alive, and he shall be called blessed upon the earth” (Psalm 41:1-2). 

Children in Sunday school may have learned about the defensive tools, the armor, of a Christian. There are pictures in coloring books that represent the various pieces of the Power and Might by which we’re girded. Power is active – “Be strong in the Lord” – while Might is a passive, indwelling force, inherently possessed, received the moment a person accepts Christ. Like athletic abilities, the defenses are then strengthened when exercised. 

An ancient prophet gave a picture of One clothed in this protection. “He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; and he put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped himself with zeal as a mantle” (Isaiah 59:17). We wear the armor, and in one hand there is “…faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you” (Ephesians 6:17, Phillips). 

The only offensive weapon provided for a believer is held in the other hand, and is referenced in the last half of that verse: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Tempted in the wilderness, our Lord used perfectly suited portions of the written word to confront Satan. Surely it’s essential for us to also know and use the Scriptures.   

The whole armor against evil is more than adequate, splendid and complete as it works in conjunction with God’s power. Several have pointed out that the pictures of a Christian warrior don’t show the back: the helmet, breastplate, girdle, belt, shield and foot coverings are all designed to protect as we face the enemy. John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim” realized there was no defense for one running away from trust in God. So, the question may be, “Who’s got my back?” 

We should always keep in mind that we are poor and needy, incapable of doing battle on our own. But John Wesley wrote, “We are to attack Satan, as well as secure ourselves; the shield in one hand, and the sword in the other. Whoever fights the powers of hell will need both.” Circumstances or standing have nothing to do with how effectively we fight: Paul wrote his letters from prison, as “an ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:20). 

With our “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” we should “be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:15, 18). Many books have been written about spiritual warfare, some frightening in their graphic portrayal. But our assurance is that with God and other people of faith on our side, all the resources of heaven are released, and we cannot lose. Some additional verses of promise: Deuteronomy 31:16; Psalm 27:1; 1 John 4:4; Zechariah 4:6; Psalm 28:7 and 1 Corinthians 15:57. Arti

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