The book of Ephesians is a letter written from Paul to the church in Ephesus. I reread the first few sections of this letter leading up to what we call chapter 6. (He wasn’t writing his letter in chapters and verses, of course.) When reading this letter, you can feel Paul’s excitement for the potential of this church exploding off the pages. He thanks God for their testimony of faith and shared blessings and grace through Christ. Then, he reminds them of their unity in Christ.
One of my first thoughts and takeaways here is this: That seems like something we should be doing- Encouraging other believers near and far. Letting other bodies of Christ know how thankful we are for them and for their role in building the Kingdom while encouraging them to go deeper alongside us would be such a powerful thing! How come I’ve not really been a part of that very often before? That should change, and how fun a change that would be. It would seem to me to be something every believer would love and need to hear especially in today’s all-encompassing division. We must seek to unify and walk in love in Christ as Paul does with the Church.
In chapter 6 v10, we get to the Armor of God. Let’s armor up as Paul instructs us, and for the purposes he instructs us.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Right away there, I’m immediately reminded that I cannot be strong on my own apart from the Lord. We can boast only through His strength.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Sometimes we may not want to bring up the devil in our everyday conversations. Most people tend to avoid people who blame every earthly problem on the devil. But we should be reminded of these “schemes” Paul warns of.
12 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.
I really want us to see this verse for what it is. Who is our opponent? Who should we be fighting? Well, its not against flesh and blood. This battle language from Paul is aggressive, but it isn’t aggressive against other people. I often see a war-like aggressive approach from believers to other people- maybe even other believers. Paul spells out his desire to see us fight the real enemy. And that is the true evil one. He seeks to divide us, and he is not coming against enough resistance these days. If we are mature in our faith, we must instantly recognize and discern when we are being drawn apart by our shared enemy, and armor up against it.
Now Paul will walk us through this figurative armor piece by piece. This is so vital to our quest for unity:
13 Therefore 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.
14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
He says that each day we should intentionally pray for these parts of our faiths to be strong, and to walk in them each moment. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation through the Word of God. Each of these aspects of our walk with Jesus would take a lifetime to ponder and practice, even to fail miserably. However, as we read earlier, we are to walk in His strength. He makes us capable and calls us to His purposes. That’s why we armor up.
He closes this thought with the importance of prayer and how we should go about it.
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Man that’s good. This scripture (and all scripture) is so useful, encouraging, convicting, and always serves as a constant call to action. I absolutely confess my lukewarm effort in these areas. I was excited this last week as these thoughts came and needed to share them to you in hopes that they would find you in a place that desperately needed the armor of God.
As we finish this day and begin the next, I am challenging myself and you in this:
May we put on the armor of God each day- not to fight each other as enemies, but rather to fight the enemy on behalf of each other, walking in love. Then may we see the Kingdom of God advance by His strength in us.