Summary: In our spiritual warfare Satan is the enemy who tries to lead us into sin and doubt; therefore, use God’s weaponry, which is the Word of God.
Keep Fighting the War
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word of Truth through which the Holy Spirit guides us is Ephesians 6:10-20 [Read the text]
Dear fellow warriors of our Lord Jesus,
For thousands of years the sword was the key weapon for soldiers. They could use it as a defensive weapon to block the blows of the enemy. More importantly, it was their chief offensive weapon. With the sword they attacked and conquered. Although modern warfare and equipment is vastly different, you have seen pictures of ancient warriors dressed in breastplate and helmet, wielding his sword.
The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul uses that picture to urge us to be fully equipped in our war. What is that war? What are our armor and weaponry? Let’s listen to God’s answer to those questions as we focus on the theme: Keep Fighting the War. 1) Know your enemy. 2) Use God’s weaponry.
1. Know your enemy
a. “Not against flesh and blood”
As the commander-in-chief of enemy forces, Satan schemes to fool you and me about the real war. So often we think our enemy is that bully at school who calls you names or you parents who set down strict rules. We think our enemy is that neighbor that keeps irritating you, that coworker or competitor who cheats to get ahead, or that relative whose words cut you down. We think our enemy is the disease that wastes away your body or the governmental regulations that can make your work difficult. But listen to what the Holy Spirit about the real war and the real enemy:
“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” (Ephesians 6:10-20 NIV).
What does that mean? Your enemy is not the school bully, the inconsiderate neighbor, the brash relative, or the malicious coworker or competitor. They can’t separate you from your Savior. Rather your enemy is the sinful attitude against them that Satan cultivates in your heart. It’s the simmering anger that continues day after day. It’s the desire to get even. It’s the temptation to give back as good as you get.
Likewise, you enemy isn’t strict parents or governmental regulation. Rather it is the rebellious attitude that kicks against the authorities God has placed over us. Your enemy isn’t the disease but the temptation to worry or blame God or to give up. As Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees (in the reading from Mark for today), it is the evils that flow out of our own heart that makes us unclean and unacceptable to God (Mark 7:23). “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood.”
b. Satan’s deadliest weapon
As destructive and deadly as these sinful attitudes can be in us, we haven’t mentioned Satan’s most deadliest weapons: Doubt.
Although doubt can be good when we are evaluating the claims of other sinful, human beings, doubt has no place in our relationship with God. Doubting what God says and promises is the opposite of believing it. Doubt is the opposite of faith. In the text, Paul talks about the shield of faith “with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16 NIV). When doubt replaces faith, we are defenseless.
If we doubt what God says about sin, it’s much easier for Satan to lead us into sins like anger, rebellion, and worry. Why should we be concerned about sinning, if we doubt that God hates sin and leaves no sin unpunished? Why should sinning trouble us if we doubt that God is serious about damning to hell all who do not perfectly serve him with holy lives? But all our doubting will not change the reality. God says, “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16 NIV). “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law” (Galatians 3:10 NIV). “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 NIV).
Then once he has caught us in sin, Satan casts doubts on God’s promise of forgiveness in Jesus. As he builds in us doubts about Jesus, he tempts us to trust our own efforts to be good enough, to trust human advancements to take away our worries, to trust the amusements of life to distract us from our problems. And if we realize how hopeless these things are, then Satan drives us to despair, to give up. As long as doubt separates you and me from the promises of Jesus, we have no hope, no salvation, only death and hell.
c. Our defense
What is our defense against doubt? None of us have a perfect faith. All of us struggle with doubts. What is our defense? How can we fight against this deadly weapon of Satan?