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Summary: Christians are not appointed to take new ground from the enemy. Rather, we are appointed to occupy ground which the Master has already won.

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EPHESIANS 6:11, 13, 14

YOUR MISSION – STAND

“Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

“Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore.”

Christians are at war. This is not a war against a physical foe or fought with physical weapons. We neither seek to kill nor injure any person; neither do we endeavour to destroy any structures erected by man. We are fighting a spiritual war, and the enemy against whom we struggle are angelic beings fallen from their previous position as servants of the Living God. God does not call His people to conquer new territory; rather, we occupy ground from which the enemy has fled before the Risen Master. The mission we have received calls for us to hold that ground which has been entrusted to our care.

APPOINTED TO STAND — “Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

“Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore.”

Four times in these few brief sentences we are commanded to stand. The thrust of the apostolic plea is for Christians to remain firm in the face of sustained assault. Paul uses two separate words that function as synonymous concepts in the text before us. First, the Apostle urges Christians to don the armour of God in order “to stand against the schemes of the devil.” He uses the same word at the end of verse 13 and again in verse 14 when he commands believers to stand, having prepared themselves for the conflict. In verse 13, Paul uses a different word when he speaks of withstanding in the evil day. However, in this instance, the word is derived from the former word. Thus, the Apostle makes a very powerful plea—nay, issues a most powerful command—for Christians to stand firm in the face of spiritual assault.

Since we are commanded to stand, we should ask where we are to stand and against what are we to take a stand; the questions are intimately related to one another. Obviously, we are not standing on some physical ground, as though the western world is to be defended, or some particular nation or continent is to resist an invasion by pagan religions. The ground for which we have received responsibility is the spiritual ground that is bathed in light. Let me explain by challenging you to think of some seemingly unrelated biblical instruction that is in reality vital.

Throughout the Word of God are references to the darkness of the world and the light in which the people of God dwell. You will recall that Jesus presented Himself to all mankind as “the light of the world” [JOHN 8:12; 9:5]. Citing Isaiah, Matthew wrote of Jesus’ birth,

“The people dwelling in darkness

have seen a great light,

and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,

on them a light has dawned.”

[MATTHEW 4:16]

The words are reminiscent of Zechariah’s prophecy at the birth of John the Baptist.

“You, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people

in the forgiveness of their sins,

because of the tender mercy of our God,

whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

[LUKE 1:76-79]

Concerning the coming of the Master, John wrote, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it” [JOHN 1:5].

Since the fall of our first parents, mankind is said to dwell in darkness. Think of just a few of the contrasts that are found in the Gospel between the light the Master provides to those who follow Him and the darkness to which mankind has become accustomed. For example, “This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” [JOHN 3:19]. John is assuredly provocative in his assertion that mankind loves darkness rather than light. People are uncomfortable in the light; they cannot stand the light because it exposes the chains than bind them.

Shortly after He had entered into Jerusalem to the loud acclaim of many of the people, Jesus taught the crowds concerning His work. Let’s listen in as the Master instructs those who listened. “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” [JOHN 12:35, 36]. The Master made it quite plain that one was either walking with Him in light, or they were walking in darkness. There was no half-light of dawn—only darkness or light.

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