Summary: God has supplied His children with armor and weaponry to be victorious in their daily spiritual battles. Do we know how to use them and are we willing?
Christian Warfare - Pt. 1
The Apostle Paul is ready to close his letter to the Ephesian congregation.
He began the letter, in the first three Chapters, reminding them of their privileged position in Christ and His Church.
In Chapter Four, he taught them how they can grow to spiritual maturity as individuals and as a congregation. How that they need to use their God-given talents to minister to each other’s needs and preserve unity.
In the same Chapter and into Chapter Five, Paul taught of the necessity of laying-aside our old way of life so as to pursue a life in imitation of God. Then, Paul turned their attention to family relationships. He explained how the Lord wants husbands and wives to conduct themselves toward each other.
In the beginning of Chapter Six, the Apostle instructs how Christian fathers are to raise godly children. He laid down the necessity of children honoring and obeying their Christian parents in all things. And, Paul went on to address the mutual obligations of Christian masters/slaves or employers/employees.
To put all these instructions into practice would be a real challenge in the best of circumstances. But, Paul, now concludes this letter by reminding his dear Ephesian brethren that they are to put these instructions into practice in very adverse circumstances.
There are going to be forces within us and outside of us that will try to undermine our every effort to do the Lord’s Will. To attempt to obey the Lord’s commands in all these areas under these trying circumstances will be nothing less than a war. Obeying each command - whether it relates to our beliefs, our thinking, our attitudes, our feelings or emotions, our words or our actions - will be a battle in itself. Winning each battle must be our one focus
Paul, now, tells the Ephesians and us how we can win our battles.
Verse 10 - "Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might."
The phrase "be strong" is better translated "be strengthened". If we are going to win battles, we need strength. This is obvious. To overcome and conquer anything in our lives, we must be stronger than that which we wish to overcome and conquer. Even though that is a basic truth, we seem to forget that principle in our Christian battles. To win our battles, we must have greater strength than does our foe or foes. That being true, Paul exhorts us to be strengthened with the Lord’s might.
Why is it essential that our strength be actually the Lord’s might?
1. We cannot rely on human, fleshly strength because our foes are spiritual It must be spiritual strength.
You can possess great physical strength. You can have a strong constitution. However, all your physical strength and health will not avail you in our Christian war because our enemies are not physical in nature. Verse 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." Our enemy is the powerful and invisible kingdom of Satan. Its demonic influence is to be seen everywhere in this world. The Wicked One may work in and through people; however, we must not see the person as our enemy as much as the spiritual influence working in and through them.
Getting back to our point. You cannot combat spiritual enemies through physical strength and physical means. To overcome spiritual enemies, one must employ spiritual means
A case in point is Sampson. Sampson was, physically speaking, the strongest man of his generation if not in the history of Mankind. Yet, it was his lack of spiritual strength that brought his humiliation and downfall. His physical strength enabled him to rip a wild lion to shreds and kill a thousand Philistines at one time with a jawbone but his physical strength couldn‘t subdue his lust for ungodly women. To overcome such temptations required spiritual strength. So it is for us today.
2 Another reason why we need the Lord’s might is that we lack the necessary might in ourselves. Jesus told Peter, in Matthew 26:41, that when it comes to overcoming temptation "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." You may want to fight against temptation but your spiritual strength is lacking and will-power alone is insufficient. Let me repeat that - Will-power alone is insufficient. If will-power alone could conquer our fleshly natures and demonic influences, surely the Apostle Paul would have lived a perfect life while he was Saul the Pharisee.
In Romans 7:12, 14-24, Paul discusses the frustration he experienced prior to becoming a Christian when he sought to practice the Law of Moses - "So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.… For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"