11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:11-13 NASB
If you claim Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are part of a war like no other. This war is not one fought on earthly soil. This is a war that is raging in a realm that cannot be seen but has very tangible casualties in the realm we can see. This war is a spiritual war. The glorious truth is that the war has already been won through Jesus Christ. He conquered sin and death to provide us with eternal life – a victorious eternal life. Even though the war is ultimately won in Christ, the final battle has not yet taken place. Until that day arrives, the believer is engaged in daily struggles that require a focused attention and full use of divinely ordained weaponry and armor. If we are going to choose to live a godly life and be obedient to the Scriptures, we will face spiritual warfare.
The Christian who is seeking to grow in his knowledge and obedience to the Lord will find that being a faithful ambassador for Christ will become harder, not easier. You can expect that as you become stronger in Christ, Satan’s attacks intensify. Consider what happened to Jesus. When He began His ministry, He battled with Satan for 40 days (Lk 4:2). When His ministry was ending, Satan attacked Him again in the Garden of Gethsemane with such force that He sweat great drops of blood (Lk 22:44). When God gives you victory and mastery over certain temptations, Satan finds other areas for attack. With every faithful ministry and service to the Lord there will be both blessing and opposition.
Since the beginning of creation, Satan has attacked God’s people and continues to wage war against us. The attack on the church intensifies almost daily as we wait for the coming of our Lord. We must be soldiers who are fully prepared for battle. In writing to the church at Ephesus, Paul was encouraging his readers to be prepared for the battle. Later in Revelation, we find this church receiving great praise from the Lord and also a powerful condemnation. They were active in good works, persevering, intolerant of sin, opposed false teaching, and patiently endured suffering. They also were condemned for leaving their first love. They were living in one of the most corrupt cities of the Roman world with all its debauchery and immorality and yet they were able to maintain right doctrine and moral standards. But Satan’s attack on them was successful in their loss of love. Their love for God had waned, which probably resulted in a loss of love for each other as well. The thrill of their salvation was gone, enthusiasm for service was low, and their lives became a factory of mere pious habits.
The defection of the church of Ephesus is a battle that still rages today in the 21st century church. Sometimes spiritual defection is intentional through open rebellion and rejection of God. Other times, the defection is so subtle that we do not recognize the drift until it is too late. We fill our lives with so many other things that our priorities shift and the defection begins. Spiritual defection often begins when we start forgetting the joy of our salvation and we lose sight of the practical ways we can love God and each other. An evidence of that defection is when we are no longer passionate about learning the Scriptures. That defection plummets further when our faithfulness to meet together and encourage one another is replaced by other “priorities.” When we are no longer concerned about praying for each other or for the furtherance of the kingdom, we are in danger of losing that first love. If our focus in worship shifts from glorifying God and ascribing praise to Him towards that of selfish responses of complaint and murmurs, our defection deepens.
We must be always on the alert for Satan’s attacks on us lest we suffer the same fate as this church of Ephesus. Just because we have a high view of the Scriptures and obedience to it, we are not exempt from Satan’s scheming. If we lose our deep love for the Lord we are on the brink of spiritual disaster. If we are going to be successful in this spiritual warfare, we must be prepared for the battle. We must recognize that battles will occur and can occur daily. To find victory in the daily battles, God gave us all the spiritual weaponry and defenses we need and they must be employed.
As Paul concludes this wonderful letter, he encourages his readers to face the battle with strength knowing that God has fully equipped them for victory. This great passage of Scripture provides wonderful counsel for us to be victorious in the daily battles of spiritual warfare. First, we must be prepared by remembering that being in Christ provides us with God’s strength. God’s strength is always sufficient to fight every battle. The amount of strength we possess is not important. It is the source of our strength that makes the difference between winning and losing. You must also know your enemy. Satan is very real and he is not some mischievous imp seeking to simply cause trouble. Scripture describes him as a lion on the prowl seeking to devour you. His schemes can be very effective and his minions are highly organized. Satan and his forces rage an ongoing wrestling match with God by seeking to destroy the things and people of God – the church. Our greatest enemy is not the person we disagree with the most. Our greatest enemy is the one who controls the philosophies and actions of godless cultures and peoples. As long as he is free to roam, the battle for our minds and hearts rages on. You and I must recognize that we are in a war against a powerful foe with highly organized and equally effective companions whose goal is to devour you and bring your life to ruins. He will stop at nothing to keep you from glorifying God. There is no mercy or grace with him. Remember that all though Satan is powerful, he is not all powerful. Only God holds that honor. Greater is He that is in you, than he that is the world. Thirdly, make sure you are dressed for battle. Because our battle is not with flesh and blood but with supernatural forces, it is imperative we do not fight with our own power. We must be equipped with the full armor of God. It must be put on and taken up. Every day is a day we fight against the forces of sin and evil. Our responsibility is to resist and stand firm. God has provided us with everything we need to withstand the assaults of the evil one. Hold your ground! Don’t give up! Stay in the fray! You are already assured victory!
Believer, we must stay vigilant and not lose heart. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. He has equipped us all with all the spiritual defenses and weaponry we need to not only fight the battles, but to be victorious in the battles. If believers will stand together, in full battle gear, we can fight off the defection. We cannot, we must not lose our love for Christ and love for each other. Satan and his cohorts are going to attack us relentlessly. He will also attack us corporately and individually. Satan and his surrogates continually scheme against us to keep us from glorifying God and bringing people to Him. When he attacks you, he attacks all of us. Take up the armor and fight. Don’t lose sight of love. Love God more and love each other more to provide the encouragement we all need (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Let us run the race with endurance knowing we are completely and eternally His. Rest in the fact that we are fully equipped for this life and the life He has promised us in Glory.