“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10
The setting was England’s House of Commons in early June of 1940. Another World War had broken out and the prospects for Britain were uncertain at best. In the face of these bleak circumstances, Winston Churchill rose to address his people.
“We are told that . . . Hitler has a plan for invading the British Isles. . . . We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
I love the picture of a leader who is willing—in the midst of severe adversity—to stand up in front of his people and bolster their courage, giving them strength to fight another day. I think that gives us a good backdrop to consider Paul’s words to a young church in Ephesians 6:1-24.
Paul spends the first half of the book of Ephesians proclaiming and explaining glorious doctrinal truths to this young church. His writing enriches our knowledge about the blessings we have in Christ, the character and work of Jesus, and our new identity and responsibilities as His followers. His explanation of the gospel is part of our bedrock understanding of all that transpired when Jesus died for us on the cross.
In the latter half of the book, Paul, like any good preacher, outlines some very practical application steps in light of this glorious gospel. The work of Jesus should transform our ability to draw together in unity with those who proclaim His name. It will transform our speech and the use of our spiritual gifts. It will move us to relationships that demonstrate unconditional love through voluntary submission and self-sacrifice.
But Paul closes the book with a sobering warning. The Ephesians—and those of us who are following Jesus today—are in a battle. It’s not a flesh and blood, tanks and bullets kind of battle, but rather it’s a struggle “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). There is a determined, deadly warfare being waged in the spiritual realm, and we are right in the middle of it.
The spiritual battle is often very visible to those serving in countries where people are oppressed and severely influenced by demonic powers. The battle there is obvious and intense.
But it is just as real and dangerous for those of us in less openly hostile environments. The enemy’s attack may involve the subtle seductions of greed, self-centeredness, sensuality, or the hollow pursuit of pride and pleasure. But whether frontal or subtle, it is a battle just the same and we still need the rally cry “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” and “take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
So through prayer we will fight his attacks on our marriages. We will fight his attacks on our children. We will fight his attacks on the church. We will fight his attacks on ethics and integrity. Because the good news is that Jesus Christ has already won on our behalf. We shall never surrender!
- How have you experienced the reality of spiritual warfare in your efforts to live for Jesus?
- What role does prayer play in standing firm against the enemy of Christ? (See Ephesians 6:18.)
- The spiritual armor Paul describes in Ephesians 6:10-20 is familiar to most of us who are following Jesus. Take some time to read through it with fresh eyes, and pray that God would remind you of the importance of being properly “armed” for battle today.