“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. 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.” Ephesians 6:10-13
We have finally arrived at my favorite portion of the book of Ephesians. Years ago, I memorized these final verses of Ephesians 6, and I have never forgotten them. I have clung to them in the good times and the bad. These are the words that I have found on the tip of my tongue in times of need. I have been eagerly waiting for this day to come for some time now, so if you don’t mind, I’d like to just jump right in!
As we all should know by this point in our study, Paul spent the first three chapters of Ephesians describing what the true believer ought to believe, which will inevitably propel them towards righteous living in their new life in Christ, defined in chapters four through six. Here in Paul’s final words in the book of Ephesians, he reminds these believers that if they are truly in Christ, they will be in a spiritual battle. He doesn’t inform them of this reality to frighten them, but rather to prepare them. Keeping in step with his pastoral heart, Paul warns them of this war and instructs them on how to win it.
He starts with the imperative to “be strong in the Lord”, a critical place to begin in this battle for souls. This is not a suggestion. It’s a command. While Satan, demons, sin, and death were ultimately defeated and broken at the cross, this life on earth will continue to be filled with temptation. The essential reminder we are given here in verse ten is that we can only overcome temptation and the enemy’s schemes and be victorious in this spiritual battle that we are engaged in by finding our strength in the Lord. No amount of human determination or self-sufficiency will cut it. We are to “be strong in the Lord.”
Next, we are given the command to “put on.” The last time this phrase was used in the book of Ephesians was in chapter 4:24 when we were told to “put on” the new self. There is a similar understanding to grasp here. While chapter four instructed us to embrace our new life in Christ and to clothe ourselves with the virtues of that new life, chapter six tells us to clothe ourselves with the armor of God so that we may be victorious in this new life we have been given. Why is it so important that we armor up? Make no mistake that once you sign up for new life in Christ, you become a target for the enemy. What once belonged to Satan, now belongs to God, and this infuriates him. He wants you back, but by God’s grace, that is a desire that will go unmet. You were bought with a price, and you now belong to Him. Still, the enemy will do everything he can to distract you, overwhelm you, and discourage you from your commitment to Christ. This is precisely why we must armor up.
It is very unfortunate that many are coming to faith in Christ under the notion that life after Christ will be without trial and a smooth ride. Therefore, at the very first bump in the road, many fall away because they are neither equipped nor prepared. Paul cared deeply about each church under his leadership and their health, so he didn’t sugar coat the reality of what lie ahead for them. Jesus Himself told us that in this world, we would experience hardship. He finished that statement, though, with hope: “Take heart, for I have overcome this world.” We are engaged in a battle, whether we want to be or not. However, this is a battle that we will win, if we are in Christ. In order to emerge on the winning side, we must obey our commander’s orders. Armor up. Putting on the full armor of God enables us to stand and not fall in the face of the devil’s schemes and secures our victory.
Friends, remember this today: Your dad is not your enemy. Your mom, brother, sister, child, neighbor, or friend is not your enemy. The person who abused you or mistreated you is not your enemy. The enemy is your enemy. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. This is a spiritual battle. Stay focused. Be alert. Armor up. This is our battle plan. The only way you will be found standing at the end of the fight is to be strong in the Lord, not in yourself, and to put on your armor. It’s time to armor up.