Summary: Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians that it is necessary to start with God’s grace, live out our faith based on that grace and stand against Satan using that grace.
Ephesians 6:10-18 “Put On the Armor”
We continue to examine Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. After instructing his readers in the basics of God’s grace, Paul encourages Christians to live in the reality of that grace by walking before others and standing against Satan. We can easily accept the idea that our faith needs to make a difference in our lives and that we need to live out our faith in our daily lives. Paul’s exhortation to stand against Satan may surprise us, though. Paul’s words about fighting against powers and principalities may sound strange to our scientific and technological minds. Satan, demons and forces of evil seem a little far-fetched for us.
It may be necessary for us to contain our doubts and bridle our skepticism. For Paul, Satan is very real, and for him there is another level of reality that we moderns are not as aware of as we are our physical world. Let us hear what he has to say about the forces of evil in our world and our everyday lives.
SIGNS OF SATAN
Though we may deny the reality of a personal Satan, it is hard to deny the reality of evil in the world. The concentration camps of Germany, the killing fields of Cambodia, and the genocide of Senegal are graphic displays of the presence of evil in our world. War, hunger, poverty, prejudice, injustice are more common examples of the results of sin and evil.
Evil’s power is not only demonstrated on a global level, but also on a personal level. Though we are called to strive to end hunger and poverty, to be peacemakers, and to fight injustice, it is on the personal level that Paul’s words seem to be directed.
We can sense Satan’s presence in our lives at a variety of times.
¨ When we are inspired to hate rather than to love. People do terrible things to us and to the people we love. Our natural response is hate and Satan plays into that response. God calls us to love.
¨ Fear stems from Satan’s touch upon our lives and his whispering into our ears and hearts that God is not in control and that God does not love us.
¨ Depression, the lie that we are no good, is Satan moving in our lives trying to get us to doubt the truth that we are children of God in whom God is well pleased.
¨ Hopelessness and the groundless belief that it can’t be done rather than that it can be done is Satan at work.
When Satan attacks us personally and those around us, we are then invited by Paul to put on God’s armor and stand against Satan.
Our initial response to Satan’s attack is to either admit defeat and run, or to try to face Satan with our own gifts and talents. Neither approach is a wise one and Paul advises against them.
Satan is bigger than we are. We cannot face him alone. We do not have the strength to face Satan relying on the combined gifts and talents of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Satan is bigger than all of us.
The good news is that God is bigger and more powerful than Satan. Satan cannot stand against God and God will always be the victor.
God has given us practical gifts with which to face Satan. They are gifts that we all have as Christians. They are not exotic, but basic gifts.
All of the armor that Christians are instructed to put on is based on God’s grace.
¨ Our helmet of salvation is God’s gift to us.
¨ Our breastplate of righteousness is God’s gift to us.
¨ Our shield of faith is God’s gift to us.
¨ Our sword of God’s word is God’s gift to us.
Resting in God’s grace, Paul exhorts us to determine to stand firm against Satan. Like a schoolyard bully, Satan isn’t used to resistance, or someone standing up to him. Usually Satan quickly turns tail and runs when faced with a determined, armored Christian.
We usually don’t like to fight, but sometimes there is no other way; the fight cannot be avoided, or the goal is worth the fight.
As Christians, we can take heart. God is with us. God is greater than our adversary, and the victory is ours.