Summary: God is not just protecting us from evil, He also makes it possible to shine His light among evil
How do you cope with evil and the difficulties it causes?
When problems arise in your life, what do you do, how do you respond?
Jack Handey in his book Fuzzy Memories tells the story of a teenager who was being bullied everyday at school and was forced to hand over his lunch money. Eventually he decided to do something about it and enrolled in karate classes. However after awhile he stopped attending the karate classes and gave into the bullies because it required less effort and less money to be bullied than it required to attend karate classes.
Unfortunately, many people do the same when it comes to living out the Christian life.
They take what appears as the easier way out.
They give into the greatest bully of all Satan because they think it is easier to do so.
And yet God gives us everything we need to deal with what Satan dishes up.
And our reading from Ephesians 6:10-20 highlights some of these things.
Now the Ephesians passage is written in the context of the church in Ephesus.
Over the last few weeks we have explored how this is a church that is diverse,
and God through St Paul is encouraging them to work together, respect each other and be unified under Jesus
not because of what they do but who they are focussed on.
Focussed on Jesus.
Such a context gives us an insight into what is evil
Evil is anyone or anything that encourages us to be focussed on other things in our life rather than God and how God calls us to live.
In the same way as darkness is the absence of light.
Evil is the absence of God.
Think about your life for a moment.
What discourages or gets in the road of you having a relationship with God?
If you are like me it is not just the major scarey things.
It is also some of the things and people that God has created for good that I use for evil.
And this is how God sees it as well
Listen to verse 12 again
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Things and people in themselves are not evil.
But they can be used for and do evil things.
Even you and me can be used for evil.
Take for instance a knife.
I could use it for good by cutting up a cake and sharing it out to others.
Or I could use it for evil, by taking it and plunging it into your ribs.
Luther when explaining what the bible says about evil,
says when we pray for protection from evil
we are praying to be protected from Satan, the world and our sinful self.
Whilst Satan is always evil.
The world and our selves are evil when Satan is working in us to focus us away from God.
But fortunately we are not always evil.
The world and our selves are holy when God is working through us to bring God’s love to people and encourage people in a relationship with God and others.
This is why God is constantly offering us forgiveness and encouraging us to return to living a new life not only for Christ but under God’s protection.
And in doing so we are prepared for evil that will occur in our lives
Verse 13 says
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Unfortunately, our nature as humans is often about trying to deal with or fix a problem after it occurs.
My doctor says most people only see him when they are sick, when problems occur.
Car mechanics say many people don’t get their car serviced regularly but wait until there is a problem
And both of these people say it would be best if people saw them regularly so that they are prepared and even problems prevented.
And likewise many Christians only fully put their trust in God after a major disaster occurs.
Shortly after the September 11th bombings church attendance was up.
When people experience problems in their lives that they can’t explain or deal with they often turn to God for help.
Yet God is not just offering a band aid solution and comfort after a bad event.
He also gives us tools to prepare us to deal with the difficult stuff that occurs in our life.
I encourage you to constantly be prepared for the future by God, and not just turn to Him after you experience problems.