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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

“I Know Who You Are!”

Ephesians 6:10-17

This text is a vivid picture of spiritual warfare.  This conflict between ultimate good and evil is as old at the Garden of Eden.  Paul here is calling us to be ready and prepared.  There is joy and peace in Christ.  There is abundant love and mercy.  However there is also danger and conflict.  This conflict precedes the creation of our present world.  Jesus states that the devil has been active “from the beginning” (John 8:44).

Paul’s description of this conflict is rich in symbolism.  The first point he notes for us is that our conflict is not finally with “flesh and blood.”  Our focus then must not be on human beings, individuals or groups.  There are of course people who are evil, who indeed choose to be evil.  As we have seen, there are people who love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19).

Yet that cannot be our central focus. Christ is the savior of all people.  He gave his life for the whole world (I Tim. 4:10; I John 2:2).  He died for Herod and Pilate as well as for Peter and Paul.  That however does not apply to the devil and the “cosmic powers of this present darkness.”

We are not to fixate on evil.  Nor are we to fear it.  We are however called to confront it in the name of Jesus Christ.  Our weapons are spiritual not physical (II Cor. 10:3-6).  These weapons include truth (Satan is an ultimate deceiver), the gospel of peace (the peace we have with God through the justification we have by faith, Rom. 5:1-2). Paul then lifts up the shield of faith which quenches “all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”  Finally there is the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit “which is the word of God.”  Yes Satan can quote (or misquote) the scriptures but the word of God finally exposes and defeats him.

We should not try and hide from the reality of evil.  On the other hand we cannot be reckless or foolhardy.  We need always to recognize that our conflict is essentially spiritual.  We need to lay hold of the weapons of faith which the Lord has given us.  Finally we need to “pray in the Spirit at all times (v. 18).

Our ultimate assurance is that evil cannot finally win.  On the contrary, Jesus has won the victory (I Cor. 15:57).  In him we cannot be defeated.

Gracious and loving God may I stand firm whenever I encounter the reality of evil.  Keep me safe and strong through faith in you and trust in your word.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.