Summary: We overcome life’s battles by relying on God not on ourselves
Thomas Constable wrote, “If we want to obey God... we are in for a struggle. It is not easy to become a mature Christian nor is it automatic. It takes diligent, sustained effort.” That’s why we need to know how to wage a winning war for life. Let us read Ephesians 6:10-13 together: 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.
The word “finally” in verse 10 shows that Paul is giving his final thoughts in Ephesians. Let’s look at the basis for this conclusion. From chapters 1 to 3 Paul explained the calling we received from God. Then from chapter 4 to 6:9, he urged us to conduct or “to live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received” (4:1). We are to enjoy a significant life and experience meaningful relationships between husband and wife (5:21-33), between parents and children (6:1-4) and between employer and employee (6:5-9). Now, starting with verse 10, he warned us that we will face conflicts. We are in for a fight not only against our own sinful, selfish nature, not only against a world system that goes against God’s standards but also against an Enemy who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). In his The Invisible War seminar, Chip Ingram warns us, “When was the last time you honestly considered that some struggle or relational conflict was rooted in satanic opposition? There is an invisible world that is just as real as the visible world. We are involved in an invisible war, a cosmic conflict that has eternal Implications.” It will do no good if we deny the reality of our war against the devil and his cohorts. Make no mistake. We are up against a very cunning and powerful evil force.
However, remember that we WAGE war FROM victory, not FOR victory. Look at how Ephesians 4:8 described what happened at Christ’s death and resurrection: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” Paul used the image of a victorious king who just conquered a territory. He then would hold a victory parade. “Once the city was captured, the king or general would often ride a white horse as he returned from the conquered city back to his home city... Behind him marched all of his troops in shining battle array as the victors. Behind them, lined up in formation... and often a mile or two long, depending on the number of captives, would be the conquered... Captives have no right. They were often partially or completely stripped of clothing and dignity while they were paraded as trophies of war. Victors utterly humiliated their foes.” The Romans call that victory parade “triumphus.” That’s Latin from where we got the word “triumph.” Christ triumphed at the cross! “There [on the cross] Christ defeated all powers and forces. He let the whole world see them being led away as prisoners when he celebrated his victory.” (Colossians 2:15) In short, Christ won the war already on the cross. What seemed to be defeat was actually victory. That’s why “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). We are fighting from a position of strength, not of weakness. We are not fighting to win. We already won! God wants us to live victorious lives, not defeated lives. He wants us to overcome sin and to live obedient lives. That’s why He sent His Son to die for us.
You may be asking, “If our enemy is already defeated, how come we still face challenges in life? I thought Christ won the war already. Why are we still fighting?” We should also ACCEPT the fact that life is a BATTLEGROUND, not a PLAYGROUND. Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Sooner or later every believer discovers that the Christian life is a battleground, not a playground, and that he faces an enemy who is much stronger than he is—apart from the Lord.” The word “struggle” in verse 12 refers to a wrestling match. I like how The Message translated this verse: “This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” Unlike what we see now on TV, it was not merely theatrical. “When wrestlers went into the ring in Roman times, each one would attempt to get his hands around his opponent’s neck in a stranglehold. He then would try to press the opponent’s shoulders and head to the ground. If a wrestler’s head was pressed to the ground, he was put to death. But if only his shoulders touched, he lived to fight again.”