Summary: God created you for a calling, but you’re going to have to fight for it.
When I read this Paul’s final teaching in the book of Ephesians. It reminds me of George C. Scott in that classic movie “Patton.” He’s standing in front of an enormous American flag rallying the men to fight the battle before them during WW II. In he utters one of the best lines I’ve ever heard in a movie: “I’m not telling you to die for your country. I’m telling you to make the other poor [blankety-blank] die for his country.” Patton taught them how to fight and encouraged them that he’d get as many of them home as possible. He knew how to motivate. So does Paul.
He caps off his letter to the Ephesians with a call to arms. He’s instructed the troops, now it’s time to enter into the fray of battle. This leads to a good question to ask before we approach the text. “What is the battle we’re supposed to fight?”
We know from Ephesians that Satan and his cohorts are the enemy. His objective is to thwart God’s agenda. What is God’s agenda? According to the book of Ephesians, God is bringing everything in the universe under the leadership of Jesus Christ. As stated previously in this series, Christians are partners with God in this effort. As we live righteous lives, shining our light in a dark world, doing the good works planned before time began, marching into our call for the Lord we are privileged to partner with God in His agenda. Satan’s goal for the believer is to shut down their pursuit of God’s call upon their lives. If he cannot drag them to hell with him, his Plan B is to derail their unique calling.
He doesn’t accomplish this through physical attack. Satan assault the mind. Author Hank Hanegraaff writes:
“… the devil … does have access to our minds. He cannot read our minds, but he can influence our thoughts.”
Hank Hanegraaff, The Covering: God’s Plan to Protect You from Evil, p. 31
This evening I want to show you how to fend off the enemy’s assault and step into your calling. God provides a way in His word for us to be armed and dangerous. There’s a way to not only resist, but to go on the offensive against the enemy.
Eight Disciplines to Keep You Armed and Dangerous
1. Recognize that you are outmatched, but also empowered
In the days leading up to WW II one of the events that made Italian dictator Benito Mussolini unpopular with Allied nations and which drove him into the arms of Hitler was Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia. The Italians found a reason to go to war with the primitive nation, but really they wanted to settle a decades old score and flex their military muscle on a weaker opponent. Mussolini’s forces swept into Ethiopia quickly mopped them up. The Ethiopians were literally outgunned. In some cases they were fighting tanks with bows, swords, and spears. It was an easy kill for the Italians. In the end it made them overconfident.
We face a similar scenario with the devil, our enemy. We are outmatched. He is a supernatural being, with super intelligence from millennia of existence, super skill, and an immense satanic bureaucracy at his command. Here’s how Paul described the situation to the Ephesians:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 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. Ephesians 6:10-13
We live every day in a state of war against a satanic superpower. But we are not to give in or appease the enemy. Instead, Paul says to stand. In this case, stand doesn’t mean stay put and absorb the beating. It’s a military term calling us to stand and oppose the enemy. The only way we can do this is with God’s power. Yes, we human beings are outmatch, but remember we are also seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. The power of God is at our disposal to defeat the enemy. Satan and his minions are strong, but their power compared to God’s is like a flashlight to the sun. Here are the practical ways to appropriate God’s power to defeat the enemy.
2. Run a daily reality check
I’ve noticed that lots of Christians are taken out by Satan because they do not have a firm grip on reality. They don’t live in truth and that’s a problem because truth is part of our defense.