Verse 11 of this awesome passage is a succinct summary of what Paul talks about in these 11 verses:
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Paul’s concern for the Ephesian believers (and us) is that we stand firm in our faith. This is a concern because he has seen too many people fall by the spiritual wayside. I share his concern. And as I reflect on 35 years of ministry, many of them with students, I often wonder “where are they now?”
There are a few things in this passage that Paul wants believers to understand so that they will never be counted among the “where are they now”:
1) We are involved in a cosmic battle – We must never forget that we are at war and the battleground is our soul. Even though our enemy is invisible he is nonetheless real and nonetheless ruthless. The tendency among believers is to forget about Satan. This is very dangerous because our forgetting enables him to infiltrate our world without worrying about repercussions. It’s as if we give him a free pass to do what he wants.
2) Satan has a strategy to defeat us – It is a strategy that was field-tested in the Garden of Eden. And because it proved successful it has been used again and again. You would think that we would not be so easily duped after all this time, but alas, this is not so. Here are a few of his oft used tactics:
- He creates doubt in the minds of believers. This is what he did in Genesis 3:1 with Eve – “Did God actually say…”
- He distorts the Truth of God’s Word. Compare Genesis 2:17 with Genesis 3:3. Satan added something that God did not say. Sometimes he adds things and sometimes he subtracts things. In either case it is a distortion of truth.
- He discourages the saints of God. Often he will plant the question “Why God” in our minds when circumstances are not going the way that we would hope.
- He is a destroyer. He destroys relationships. He destroys churches. He destroys health. And he is clever enough so that we do not even suspect that he might be the culprit or the cause.
Once our eyes are opened to his strategy then we can begin to fight the real enemy. But too often we lash out at those closest to us when we are hurt or confused or despairing… and Satan just watches and malevolently grins.
3) We have been given everything we need to fight the good fight – Paul refers to the weapons of our warfare as the armor of God. He calls us to wield our weapons. All too often though, we leave our weapons unused, making us extremely susceptible to whatever Satan wants to do. The weapons we have been given are more than enough to defeat the enemy. So I will remind you, as I have been reminded:
- Remind yourself of truth and reject the lies of the evil one (v.14)
- Recognize that you are one of God’s righteous ones – made righteous because of the righteousness of Jesus. (v.14)
- Rehearse the gospel daily – delighting in all that the Lord has done for you. (v.15)
- Respond to everything in faith – expressing to God your confidence that He is in control. (v.16)
- Read, ponder, and memorize the Word of God. (v.17)
- React prayerfully in all circumstances. (v.18)
Just because these weapons don’t seem like spiritual machine guns or atomic weaponry do not make the mistake of devaluing them. They are powerful tools in our arsenal that will effectively neutralize the enemy.
May this brick help you to go into battle with confidence knowing that you you indeed will overcome the evil one.