Summary: Life on earth, the road we travel on our journey, is tough; in fact, the Bible clearly states that life is a battle.
“The Journey of a Lifetime: Equipped for Trouble”
I once saw a poster which showed a little clapboard church surrounded by an X-rated drive-in theater, a munitions factory across the street, and miles of concrete freeway crammed with cars. Two church members were standing on the front steps, one saying to the other, “Do you ever get the feeling that we’re losing ground?”
Have you ever had a day when you were convinced the whole world was against you – everything goes wrong, nothing works right? How often have you felt like someone or something else was really in control of your life – and that they or it were out to get you? So you turn to Scripture for some help and discover that you may just be right – that there is strong opposition out to get you. Not very encouraging, is it?
The truth is, life on earth, the road we travel on our journey, is tough; in fact, the Bible clearly states, life is a battle. Here in Ephesians, Paul’s first insight concerns THE SCENE OF THE BATTLE. To this point in his letter Paul has been laying out one tremendous truth and one glorious blessing after another. Then, in 6:10, comes his “Finally...” We can hardly wait for his great conclusion! But, ever the realist, Paul pulls us up short – he reminds us that we must live this blessed, rich life in a world in which there is a tremendous power working against us. So he encourages us to be strong in the Lord. Paul wants us to understand that THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS THE SCENE OF THE BATTLE. It is not life of ease. We are strangers in an alien territory.
The Bible consistently presents this world as a battleground; Jesus even said SATAN IS THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD. (Jn. 12:31). He is the prince of demons (Mt. 9:34) and the ruler “of the kingdom of the air (Eph. 2:2) In Eph. 6:12 Paul summarized it: “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.” In his first Letter the Apostle John pointedly wrote (1 Jn. 5:19): “The whole world is under the control of the evil one.” The word he uses for ‘control’ has the sense ‘unconsciously in his arms.’ The whole world in unconsciously in Satan’s arms.
That’s why we fight ourselves – we do battle with the urges and drives within us (Rom. 7). Daily we fight what the Bible calls our “flesh.” Satan’s influence works its way inside us which makes our journey very difficult. That’s why, as we see in Pilgrim’s Progress, we are severely tempted by alternate routes, by the charm and power of Vanity Fair and the treasures of life.
SATAN USES HIS POWER EFFECTIVELY BY ASSUMING ALIASES. Just listen to the names attributed to him in the Bible: god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), liar and father of lies and murderer (Jn. 8:44, dragon (Rev. 12:9), destroyer (Apollyon)( Rev. 9:11), adversary and roaring lion (1 Pt. 5:8), evil one (Mt. 6:13), tempter (Mt. 4:3), accuser (Rev. 12:10), and thief (Jn. 10:10). Above all these characteristics, is the fact that Satan is a great deceiver. The word Paul uses for the devil’s ‘schemes’ in verse 11, has the sense of trickery and deceit. He is crafty. He works behind the scenes in hidden ways. He often appears as attractive, nice, and helpful, while all the while lowering our standards and gaining power over us.
Through these disguises Satan is able to work destructively in a multitude of ways. (1) He tempts (Mt. 4:3-10), perverts Scripture (Ps. 92:11, 12; Mt. 4:5-6), opposes God’s works (Zech. 3:1; 1 Thess. 2:18), hinders the gospel (Mt. 13:19 & 19:22; 2 Cor. 4:4), works lying wonders (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 16:14), defiles good works (Mt. 13:19-30), blinds multitudes to the truth (2 Cor. 4:4), strives unceasingly to prevent faith (Lk. 8:12; Acts 13:8-10), endeavors to damage or destroy faith (Job 1; Mt. 13:39; Lk. 22:31; 1 Pt. 5:8-9), and creates doubt and denial (Gen., 3:1-5).
And Satan does these WORKS IN CULTURES AND NATIONS AS WELL AS IN INDIVIDUALS. We sometimes fail to grasp it in culture. But make no mistake about it, American culture is in a downward spiral – there is a marked decrease in traditional, foundational values and basic healthy morality. We see it clearly in American family life. Marriage is losing its sacredness, the traditional meaning of the marriage ceremony itself is lost, there is increased public disrespect for parents and authorities in general and an accompanying acceleration of juvenile delinquency and rebellion, a refusal of people with traditional marriages to accept their family responsibilities, an increased desire for the acceptance of adultery, and an increased interest in the spread of sexual perverseness and sex related crimes. As a result, children live with a bewildering array of relatives – mothers, fathers, multiple step mothers, step fathers, step brothers, step sisters, step grandparents, formal grandparents, etc. Children are routinely victimized as they are bounced from home to home as families splinter and reform. Many will have no one to care for them and boys and girls will, as one news magazine predicted, roam the streets much like they did in Charles Dicken’s London.