This Week’s Passage: 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
This passage reminds me of two things that I have a tendency to forget about. One which can be be very hazardous to my spiritual well being and the other that can, well, be very hazardous to my spiritual well being.
1) There is an evil one – Paul has made this clear throughout his letter as more than once he has referred to the devil and the forces of darkness. To Paul, Satan is not some hypothetical enemy or cartoonish bad guy. He is a very real, very dangerous, very formidable threat to believers and to the work of God. And Paul takes this threat very seriously – hence this impassioned plea to the Ephesians to armor up.
We would do well to take this threat equally as seriously. One of the great books that C.S. Lewis wrote is called The Screwtape Letters. Very worth the time it will take to read it. Lewis was aware that Christians did not pay much attention to the evil one so he wrote this book to make us think about the dangerous position this puts us in. It is a book of letters written from one of Satan’s underlings to a demon who is on the front lines of the enemy’s work. Here are a few quotes from the book to whet your appetite. (Keep in mind they are written from the devil’s perspective to a young demon who is trying to work his devilish charm on an unsuspecting human… hence Enemy = God)
“Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that ’suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches… The search for a ’suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil.”
“Our cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”
“A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all – and more amusing.”
“Indeed the safest road to hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”
“Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defence against Christianity. They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can’t touch and see. ”
Never forget that we are at war with a dangerous unseen enemy who desires to destroy our witness, kill our intimacy with the Father and steal our joy. But there is a second this this passage alerts us to…
2) We must live “in the Spirit” – Just as we discount the existence of the devil we forget that the omnipotent Spirit of the living God dwells within us. Paul never forgot this. Throughout this letter he has referred to the Spirit and His work in the believers. Since I am in a quote mood today I will drop a few more on you – this time from Francis Chan’s book The Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit
“We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives and churches can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God.”
“I believe that the Spirit is more obviously active in places where people are desperate for Him, humbled before Him, and not distracted by their pursuit of wealth or comforts.”
“The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally want or choose to do. The Spirit will lead you into the way of the cross, as He led Jesus to the cross, and that is definitely not a safe or pretty or comfortable place to be. The Holy Spirit of God will mold you into the person you were made to be…”
“I don’t believe God wants me (or any of His children) to live in a way that makes sense from the world’s perspective, a way I know I can ‘manage’. I believe he is calling me – and all of us – to depend on him for living in a way that cannot be mimicked or forged. He wants us to walk in step with his Spirit rather than depend solely on the raw talent and knowledge he’s given us.”
Be on the lookout today for signs of the war raging around you – and make sure you are walking in step with the Spirit of God.
I’m just sayin! or perhaps in today’s case “They’re just sayin’!”
Next Week’s Passage: Ephesians 6:19-20