Question 6: Am I fully armed for every spiritual battle?
Quote - "The attitude of some many Christians today is anything but fierce. We're passive, acquiescent. We're acting as if the battle is over…" - Waking the Dead (Eldredge), p. 168.
The tendency is toward one of two extremes when exploring spiritual warfare - to minimize it so that Christians aren't alerted to the danger, or to maximize it so it is blamed for matters where human responsibility is the primary issue. This passage emphasizes both God's part and our part in being fully armed for spiritual battle.
- Our Strength (10)
- "Be strong in the Lord" - our power apart from Christ is no match for our Enemy, but "in the Lord" our dependence is upon the power of Christ and Satan is no match for the power of Christ! James (4:7) makes it clear our strength is found in submission - "Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Our strength is found in a pattern of submission to Christ and resistance to Satan.
- In the physical world, resistance builds strength (in exercise, setting the resistance higher on cardio equipment or lifting more weight builds strength) - true in the spiritual world as well! Christ provides the strength we need - remember Paul's earlier prayers focused on the power of God (1:15-23; 3:14-21)
- Our Struggle (11b-12)
The term would have been recognized by original readers as commonly used for the "wrestling event" which was a prominent part of the athletic games in Olympia, Greece. "Struggle" implies strenuous effort, stamina, fitness (implying conditioning before the struggle ever begins).
When my son Chris wrestled I learned both strength and strategy are important, and that often strategy involved counter-moves to the opponent's schemes.
- Satan's schemes (11b) - "schemes" is methodia, from which we get "methods." Schemes pictured in different ways in the Bible: Lion stalking prey (I Peter 5:8), Satan "taking territory" (Ephesians 4:27 - "foothold" includes the idea of topography, or giving up ground). Satan takes his territory subtly and slowly ("inch by inch, anything is a cinch") - from toehold > foothold > stronghold (II Corinthians 10:4).
- Satan's spiritual forces (12). Not a physical struggle (flesh and blood), but a spiritual struggle (rulers, authorities, powers, spiritual forces). Becoming harder and harder for people to believe - majority of Christians don't believe in the devil (Barna's survey). Whereas belief in God gives Him power in your life, unbelief in the devil gives him power in your life! Satan, because he is not omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient (not God!) relies on an organization of "spiritual forces"
- Our Stand (11, 13-18)
- Obviously emphasized - "stand" (11, twice in 13, 14). "Stand your ground" (13) carries the idea of holding a critical position while under attack. Must make our stand (Custer's last stand) - can't run or hide. You are either "standing your ground" or "giving up ground" (losing ground) by giving Satan a foothold.
- Danger of standing alone - need for community. Example of Jesus interceding for Peter when "Satan asked to sift you as wheat." (Luke 22:31-32).
- We need the "full armor of God" (13-17) - God provides the resources, but we must wear what we've been given - are some Christians spiritual "streakers" who go into battle undressed and unarmed?
There is power in prayer - other than final greetings, Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians with prayer requests - for all of the Lord's people, and for Paul's fearlessness in proclaiming the gospel.
Reflection & Action
Use the guide for either personal devotions or group discussion.
© Wayne Schmidt