For a while, maybe a month or two, or maybe longer, I would like to take the second Monday of each month to concentrate on specific Scripture passages. To me, there is nothing more powerful and life changing than the Word of God. I believe the Bible to be God's words, given to men who wrote them down. If you study the history of the Bible you will realize this was a book not put together on a whim. It was written over a period of approximately 1,600 years by 40 different authors. Of course, as with so many things, there are people who claim the Bible is just another book, with numerous contradictions and old fashion ideals that don't apply to real life.
If you are reading this and are a follower of Christ, you know the Bible is God's word. His Spirit which dwells within you, gives you confirmation of this on a regular basis. Does it take faith to believe what the Bible says? Yes. Isn't that what faith is all about? Believing without seeing? We can't talk to those men who walked with Jesus on the shores of Galilee. We can't walk in the Garden of Eden. We weren't on the ark when it carried what was left of life within its water bound hull. However, we can testify of what God, His Son Jesus and His Spirit have done in our own lives and in the lives of others that we know. We can share stories of lives change, miracles prayed for and struggles overcome, because of what His word does within us.
Does that mean that we as Christ ones, live without difficulty? No. We struggle with life, just like everyone does, but we live with knowledge of a world beyond what our own eyes can see. A spiritual world where a real battle wages. This is a battle of good versus evil, more real than anything we might read in a Tolkien saga or the world of Harry Potter. But this enemy is crafty and deceptive. What better strategy than to pull the wool over everyones' eyes; to lure them into a malaise of disbelief and self absorption.
As you may have realized from reading this blog, I love to use my imagination. Look at that verse and using your imagination picture our enemy. He is described as our adversary. He is like a roaring lion, not just roaring, but prowling around, seeking someone to devour. Our enemy is hungry. He is seeking to destroy. Look at the chaos in our world today....killings, racial unrest, terrorist activity, bullying, sexual molestations and rape...the list goes on and on. This enemy is behind it all. Oh yes, we do get some of the credit. We are self centered and living to please our flesh. We are deceived and fearful.
But God is our protector. He is our King and for Him and by His authority and strength we can fight.
I want to look a little more closely at this passage in Ephesians 6. This week I am only going to concentrate on verses 10 and 11. I want to point out several ideas that are important to note.
1. "Finally..." What is so important about this word? If you read the entire book of Ephesians in the New Testament (which isn't too hard as it is only 6 chapters), you will see much of the book is devoted to Paul's teaching on relationships. He talks about unity within the church body; walking as a Christian, being imitators of God, marriage relationships and even the relationship between slaves and their masters (and today we might say those relationships with our bosses or coworkers). I believe that what Paul is about to say after the word, finally is of extreme importance to preserving those relationships. Where does our enemy attack most frequently? In our relationships with other people. Whether it be a marital spat, a divorce, an abusive parent, a vicim of family assault or the unrest of racial tensions, we can't help but have to relate to other people.
2. "...be strong in the Lord..." It does not say, be strong in yourself, or be strong in your spouse, or be strong in your friends, or your job, or your hobbies. God's word says to be strong in Him.
3. "...and in the strength of His might." Paul doesn't want you to miss this important fact. Not only are we to be strong in the Lord, but we are to be strong in the strength of His might. What does that mean? God is omnipotent. Simply put, He is all powerful. Being strong in Him and in the strength of His might, means that I am laying my struggles at His feet and asking Him to help me fight the battle. That doesn't mean I don't have to get out of bed any more, or go to work any more. But it might mean that I need to get on my knees and pray, or get out my Bible that is gathering dust and read, or talk to a friend or Pastor or counselor who can help me figure things out. It might mean, swallowing my pride and asking forgiveness. These are the things He can help us do.
4. "Put on the full armor of God...." This is something we have to do. In a later post I will spend more time looking over the actual pieces of armor that are listed in the next few verses and I will talk about what it looks like to put on the armor of God.
5. "...so that..." I am listing these two words on their own, because they are important, on their own. If a so that is there it is for a reason. We are to put on the full armor of God for a reason.
6. "...you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." There you have it. I am putting on this armor to be able to stand firm against the devil. I love that Paul says we are to stand and that we are to do it firmly. Two things come to mind. First, we are to stand. We aren't supposed to sit, or lay down or cower in a corner. There are times we will do those things, but not when we put on His armor. Second, we are to do it firmly, which implies that I am grounded on a surface that is stable and not shifting. If you were in a battle with an enemy whose sole desire was to see you dead, wouldn't you rather fight with your feet planted on rock rather than sand?
The other point from this last phrase is that the devil is a schemer. Don't go about life, thinking he's not intelligent and planning. He is. He used to be a top notch angel, but pride in his beauty and intelligence got him thrown out of heaven. He felt he was better than God, Himself. Talk about an ego. The last thing he wants is for a follower of Christ to remain solid in his relationship with God and with others. He's plotting our downfall on a regular basis. By putting on God's armor, we not only protect ourselves, but those who are in our care.
Of course, I can sit here in my warm home and easily write about these things. You might be thinking, I don't know the battle you are going through, and I don't, but without going into detail, I can tell you, we have and are battling this enemy. He has done great harm to those we love and even to ourselves. Some things we have control over and many we do not. It is in those things that I must continue to put on God's armor, to fight for the lambs He has put in my charge.
Lastly, I'd like to leave you with another passage that I just love. One that gives me hope and strength.