Fighting evil

Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Eph 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
Eph 6:15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
Eph 6:16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
Eph 6:17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
Eph 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

In the current society, where almost everything is viewed as relative, and man’s views as existentialism, we tend to forget that we are engaged in a war between good and evil. There is no neutral position, all thoughts and acts are in relation to either side.

This passage shows not only that we are at war, but also identifies the enemy and also what Christians need to do to fight in this war.

As always, the first statement is that we are strong because God makes us strong. We are strong because He is strong. And God makes us strong be equipping us for the fight. In Psalm 144 we read: Psa 144:1 Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;

God makes us strong, He trains us for battle. I can say, as someone whose first ministry was dealing with students who were fascinated by mysticism and astrology, and even satanism, that we are in a very real war, against a deceptive and clever enemy. Who will subvert us with things that are 99% true and 1% false, who will use our own against us. It is rarely a direct confrontation (although it sometimes can be), it is a war of deception.

So how does God make us strong in this war? He gives us the moral knowledge to stand strong, He gives us the attributes that good soldiers in this war need, and He leads us from the front.

The “whole armor” shows that we need everything that is part of the armor to successfully wahe this war. Leave one thing out, and you will be vulnerable in that respect.

The full complement of attributes is held together by the belt, the truth. Without the truth revealed in Scripture as the basis that holds it all together, one is susceptible to lies and deception. One cannot clearly see things for what they are apart from the truth of revelation.

Righteousness is shown as the breastplate to show that one should be righteous from the heart. According to Ungers “New Bible Dictionary”, righteousness is “purity of heart and rectitude of life, being and doing right”. Of course, in this context, we as Christians have the righteousness of God in our hearts through justification.

Our feet, which symbolizes that which carries us into battle, must be ready, and the gospel is what carries us forward into battle. The gospel is the start of the war, and it is the opening salvo against the enemy. It is what creates emnity, it is what offends to the extent of war.

Without faith to shield us from the attacks of evil, we are vulnerable to the “fiery darts”. The greek word for fiery here indicates strating a fire, or kindling. As we all struggle with uncertainty sometimes, we know how easy it is for a small spark to become a raging doubt. Faith is what protects us against that spark.

Salvation is that which enables us to know about this war, to be aware that we are engaged and part of the the struggle against evil. It is salvation that installs in us the confidence that we are on the winning side.

The sword of the Spirit is the only offensive part of the armor. It is the Spirit of God, through the word of God, in Greek literally the “utterances of the Spirit”, that strikes at the enemy.

How do we fight? V18, through prayer. Our prayers enable the Spirit. In v19, Paul says that the prayer should be that he becomes the mouthpiece of the utterances of the Spirit. And similarly we should pray for all Christians, that the weapon of the gospel, that which was exclaimed by the very Spirit of God, can go forth to defeat the enemy.

We are to boldly proclaim the gospel, strengthened by the Spirit. We are strong because God makes us strong. We have the ultimate weapon in our arsenal, the Spirit of God. And we use it by praying and boldly proclaiming the Gospel.

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