The real struggle

Ephesians 6:10-17
Many of us recall the story of David and Goliath. Before young David uses his slingshot to defeat the giant of a man, King Saul outfits him with his own armor. David is not comfortable. He takes the armor off because he is not used to it. Instead of the weaponry of the king, he uses what is familiar. In this case, it’s a handful of stones he keeps handy in his bag. He’ll be ready with his sling.

Now, let’s flip through the pages of scripture to Ephesians 6. Like David, you and I face a foe, several in fact. Unlike David, it’s not the enemies we suppose are standing in front of us. Jesus has already told us how to approach those people. Pray for them and seek their well-being (Matthew 5:44).

Ephesians wants us to know where our real struggle is. Armed with this knowledge, we can escape the perpetual cycle of violence against one another. You know the verse: For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

That’s a lot to take in. Isn’t it easier to throw stones at the people who are in our way?

Sure. But remember our call to repentance.

If you repent, something has convinced you to think differently. God’s Spirit convinces Christians to think differently about Jesus, ourselves and the world.

To be sure, learning to love your enemies is difficult. How much more so, however, is it to stand against cosmic powers? I’d say much more because we can’t always envision what they are. Are we even comfortable speaking in terms of cosmic powers and spiritual forces?

But that is our struggle.

Once we choose to redirect our strength and faith, we hear the call to stand. Ephesians 6 repeats it. Stand against the wiles of the devil, the writer says. Also, with God’s armor, you can withstand the evil day approaching and stand firm knowing you have done all things in faith.

It seems to me that is part of what we are learning to do. David tried on the king’s armor, but it proved too difficult to use. Would he have been able to defeat Goliath with it? It’s here we need to deflect from David’s story. After all, he fought a flesh-and-blood enemy. Plus, he used his own preparation and weapons.

The writer of Ephesians makes it clear whose armor we are to wear. It’s not ours. It’s God’s. And we shouldn’t expect that using some of the armor is sufficient. Twice the text tells us to “put on the whole armor of God.” We need God’s power to stand firm in this struggle.

Now, how do we know we are standing firm?

How can we tell if we’re outfitted with God’s armor?

Ask yourself a few questions.

How do truth and righteousness guide your thoughts? Do you wish the gospel of peace was more practical or do you seek to make it known and experienced? How does faith shape who you are? What does your salvation mean to other people? And just what do you do with the word of God?

The reality is it’s easier to throw rocks at people. The real struggle is trusting God enough to stand against our real enemy.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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