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Ephesians 6:10-12 • Stand Firm

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
    —Ephesians 6:10-12 (NASB)

One of the quirks of my personality is that I not only grew up playing and mastering board games which replicated all the great wars throughout history, but parlayed that skill for a time as a real-world intelligence analyst. I’m mentioning this so you might have some understanding of what truly amazes me as we come upon what is probably THE best and most well-known biblical passage on spiritual warfare symbolized by the individual pieces of the “full armor of God“. The entire approach here does not conform to conventional wisdom where warfare is concerned because the call is not to equip and train one’s self in order to go out and seek and destroy the enemy, but “to stand firm“. This is really about the fact that it’s Christ who fights and wins the battle for us.

Yes, there’s many historical examples of peoples, nations, or armies defending against an aggressor, but how few are the examples of forces raised purely for defense. They’re almost always based on that well-known axiom, “A good defense is a good offense”. Well, when human is fighting human, that’s true; but when our enemy is NOT flesh and blood” just like us but actually “spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places“, the bottom line is that we’re outmatched. The only similar offensive weapon on our behalf is Christ who is also of that realm. He realizes from the outset that when such forces come down to face us that we’re overmatched, so He commands only that we do what is necessary to stand our ground while He brings about ultimate victory.

The most important points of application here are that we are to stand firm “against the schemes of the devil” and struggle against “wickedness“. These define who and what is attacking us against which we need to stand “in the strength of His might“, not our own. It’s not just that the battle is against forces of a spiritual nature, but that these very attacks are spiritually defined as “schemes” and “wickedness“. This should help us understand the only weapon mentioned in our arsenal, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” :”(Ephesians 6:17)”: and how it’s most effective in allowing us to make a successful stand against such attacks.

I think one of the side effects of this approach is that it serves to make us an example to everyone around us. Satan attacks everyone spiritually in one way or another, so it’s a particularly powerful witness when, in spite of circumstances, we can stand our ground against him. The fact that the same conditions are not producing the same results testifies to what Christ is doing in our life and that there’s something different going on.