Stand Firm Against the Onslaught (Ephesian 6:12-13)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. ¹³Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. —Ephesians 6:12-13
Our bodies can be injured or even killed by people (flesh and blood), but people, even those who violently persecute believers, are not the Christian’s ultimate enemy. Instead, they are the Christian’s prize to win for the sake of Christ’s kingdom. A Christian’s true enemy is of a different kind. Just as the armor of God is armor of a spiritual nature, so too the enemy. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul identifies the enemy with titles that convey power and terror—we wrestle against rulers, against authorities, against cosmic powers over this present darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. This is Satan and his hoards of demons; forces of perniciousness in the spiritual realm.
Paul uses the athletic term wrestle to give us the appropriate frame of mind for what we will encounter. Just as in a wrestling match, this struggle is close, intense, and very personal. Satan’s tactics in this match are tailored to our weaknesses that we might fall, pinned to the mat, defeated by his deadly schemes. He might slither up behind us and whisper lies as he did to Eve, or he might come as an “angel of light” with temptations that seem reasonable, or he might bring a full attack of fiery arrows to assault our hearts and minds with fear. We could never win this war on our own. But God has given us His armor.
Not only are we to wrestle, but also to prepare for battle as a soldier. Twice Paul points us to the whole armor of God: put it on (v. 11) and take it up (v. 13). Twice we are told to stand (v. 11 and v. 13). The armor of God gives us strength to stand. Take it up that you may be able to withstand in the evil day. (Other translations for the word withstand are "resist, oppose, to stand against.") The armor is provided by God, but we must put it on, then “having done all, to stand firm” (v. 13). Piece by piece we must dress ourselves in God’s powerful provision for this war. Then, and only then, will we be able to stand.
As you daily prepare for spiritual battle, do not grow weary. Let the words from 17th century Puritan Thomas Watson spur you on:
Soon the battle will be over. It will not be long now before the day will come when Satan will no longer trouble us. There will be no more domination, temptation, accusation, or confrontation. Our warfare will be over and our commander, Jesus Christ, will call us away from the battlefield to receive the victor’s crown. (Grace Quotes)
God is always growing us in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are all at different stages of that growth. What are some areas of weakness or immaturity in your walk with Christ?
Read through Ephesians 4:17-6:9, making a list of any weaknesses you see there. Pray, confessing and asking God to grow you in grace and obedience to Him.
Take heart. 1 John 3:8 says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” All those who have placed their faith and trust in Christ will persevere through the temptations and trials of this war. Rejoice and worship God for victory is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ!