Paul usually wrote without equivocation regarding the call of God on the lives of those who wish to follow Jesus. Ephesians 5:8-11 is no exception. Here we read:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
It is also quite clear that those who choose to live as children of light inevitably find themselves entering a war zone, spiritual warfare to be precise. Thus, near the end of the letter Ephesians (6:10-13) the Holy Spirit instructs through Paul:
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.
These verses make it clear that spiritual warfare is a vast subject. In fact, one of the books in my library that addresses this topic exceeds 900 pages. What we will do here is spend a few more lines identifying our area of focus; and, then we will look at four strategies for victorious Christian living.
A few biblical examples make the reality of spiritual warfare abundantly clear: 1) The Fall, Genesis 3; 2) Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, Genesis 39; David’s sin with Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 11; and Jesus’ wilderness temptation, Matthew 4.
In addition to bringing the idea of spiritual warfare into focus, these examples underscore the emphasis of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6. Namely, the conflict initiated by the devil utilizing the powers of this dark world, having as its objective the eternal destruction of human souls. This is unmistakably not a philosophical struggle pitting good against evil. Moreover, it is obvious that the devil’s intent is to inflict casualties and take as many prisoners as possible.
What we need is to prepare ourselves for battle. While this post barely touches on what is involved, it is intended to list a few basic strategies for avoiding spiritual injuries and the snare of sin. Here’s the list and the Scriptures which support each strategy. If you would like to listen to a discussion of this topic, especially these points, please visit the SPIRITUAL OASIS Podcast by clicking HERE.
1) NEVER UNDERESTIMATE the power of temptation…
13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each of you is tempted when you are dragged away by your own evil desire and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. ~James 1:13-15 TNIV
2) NEVER OVERESTIMATE temptation’s power over our actions…
13No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:13, TNIV
3) NEVER VACILLATE in our resolve to live victoriously over sin…
3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~2 Corinthians 10:3-5 TNIV
4) NEVER HESITATE in our determination to stand against the devil’s evil schemes…
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 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.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. ~Ephesians 6:10-18 TNIV
May God help us all to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
© Bill Williams, March 11, 2007