Within the ebook Ephesians, Paul spares no effort in describing the seriousness of our opposition. We don’t wrestle with flesh and blood however towards the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers of this current darkness (Eph. 6:12). If that sounds scary, it’s as a result of it’s meant to. The satan is a really actual, very highly effective opponent, far too highly effective for us to tackle in our personal power. This can be a salutary reminder to folks in our Western context, who’re inclined to ridicule the concept of a literal satan. Many discover the concept of a cosmic being whom we are able to’t see, really feel, or contact and who promotes evil on this world unthinkable. After all, the satan in whom they don’t imagine is, of their minds, typically not the biblical determine however a relatively ridiculous picture with hooves and horns. Who may critically imagine in that creature? It’s handy for the satan when folks don’t imagine in his existence. Then he can pursue his nefarious schemes unsuspected and undetected.
But who doubts the fact of evil on this universe? Virtually everybody agrees that some issues usually are not merely tragic however genuinely evil. Gassing thousands and thousands of Jews within the demise camps of Poland is evil. Press-ganging younger African youngsters into a military, getting them excessive on medication, after which sending them into battle is evil. Trafficking ladies within the intercourse trade is evil. The place does all this evil on the planet come from? Man’s pure inhumanity to man hardly appears a adequate rationalization for evil on this scale. Is it doable that there’s one other issue, a supernatural non secular dimension, to all of this ethical depravity? If you happen to imagine that the universe you see round you is all there may be, then you haven’t any rational foundation on which to be shocked and outraged at evil. What we name “evil” should then be interpreted merely as an emotional response inside us to harmful issues, triggered by evolutionary biology. However the Bible has a richer and deeper rationalization for the unhappy world we discover ourselves in, a proof that enables us to acknowledge the profound actuality of evil and the invisible non secular forces that lie behind its fixed reappearance in numerous shapes and varieties.
The Ephesians to whom Paul was writing weren’t fashionable materialists. They have been very effectively conscious of the non secular forces round them, as folks in different elements of the world proceed to be. But even to them, Paul makes some extent of highlighting the facility of the opposition we face:
We don’t wrestle towards flesh and blood, however towards the rulers, towards the authorities, towards the cosmic powers over this current darkness. (Eph. 6:12)
A number of the phrases that Paul makes use of right here might have been in use in Ephesus as titles for varied non secular beings; Ephesus was a hotbed of occult curiosity, as Acts 19:18–19 makes clear.1To those folks, already satisfied of Devil’s actuality, Paul strongly underlines the facility of the opposition that confronted them—the identical energy that faces us. To make use of Peter’s language, Devil “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
You Want Safety
After all, including to the imbalance on this wrestling match is the truth that though our opponents usually are not flesh and blood, we’re. We aren’t principalities and powers or cosmic rulers however odd flawed, fallen, flesh-and-blood mortals. You would possibly assume that now we have no enterprise partaking on this fight; within the language of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, it’s hobbits towards orcs, an unequal contest. But that is precisely the battle wherein we’re engaged. Serving within the Lord’s military isn’t an choice reserved for these notably dedicated to God. The selection isn’t whether or not you may be a Christian soldier or a Christian civilian however whether or not you may be a ready Christian soldier or an unprepared one. And an unprepared soldier of flesh and blood will be unable to face towards the size of the non secular forces ranged towards her or him.
What’s extra, this battle takes place within the midst of “this darkness.” In lots of respects, the darkish world wherein we stay is Devil’s playground. There are tempting sights, sounds, and tastes on this world that dazzle and attract us into sin. There may be a lot round us that appears fascinating and plenty of highly effective temptations that discover a prepared ally in our flesh. Earthly objects are very actual to us, whereas heavenly realities appear ethereal and intangible. Devil additionally has centuries of expertise as a tempter, realizing precisely which temptations are probably to attract our particular person human nature into sin, whether or not giving ourselves to a specific type of extra or to a delicate self-exalting pleasure that flows from a perception in our personal righteousness. The highly effective mixture of the world, the flesh, and the satan is inevitably overwhelming, left to ourselves.
That is why Paul doesn’t merely say, “Bring the armor of God along with you on the off chance that you might need it.” Fairly, he says, “You will need it; so put it on.” As a talented tempter, Devil additionally is aware of tips on how to use the problem of the fight to his personal benefit. As a toddler, I used to look at the science fiction program Dr. Who. A number of the physician’s opponents I notably keep in mind from these early days have been the Cybermen. These terrifying bionic creatures loudly proclaimed, “Resistance is useless,” sending me scurrying behind the couch week after week. In the identical approach, the satan typically seeks to frighten us into submission, shouting at us, “Resistance is useless!” He pretends to even higher energy than he has, presenting a specific temptation to us as completely irresistible. He says to you: “You can’t help yourself. It’s the way you were made. You need this sin to be happy. What is the point of resisting? You know you are going to lose in the end, so you might as well just give in now.”
The selection isn’t whether or not you may be a Christian soldier or a Christian civilian however whether or not you may be a ready Christian soldier or an unprepared one.
The Scale of God’s Provision
To fight this technique, we have to perceive the size of the supply God has given us. Paul’s want is that we should always be capable to stand towards the schemes of the satan, and to that finish he begins by outlining God’s far higher energy. Even earlier than he introduces the opposition forces, Paul tells us that we’re to be robust in God’s superior, magnificent energy, an influence that’s past examine. The phrases Paul makes use of right here in Ephesians 6:10 are an echo of the identical Greek phrases that he utilized in Ephesians 1:19 to explain the facility of God that raised up Christ.2 In different phrases, the facility with which now we have been geared up for our battle towards sin and Devil is the exact same energy that introduced Christ again from the useless.
This isn’t simply the facility that might be required to boost somebody like Lazarus from the useless (see John 11:1–44). Elevating the bodily useless is not any huge deal, comparatively talking. But the facility of God is nice sufficient to boost Christ from the useless, Jesus Christ who was buried in demise beneath the complete weight of God’s wrath towards sin—the sin of each one in all his folks all through all ages, together with you and me. This energy of God not solely raised Jesus Christ again to life however lifted him to the heavenly realms, so that he’s now seated on the proper hand of the Father in glory. There may be actual energy, far higher even than the terrifying energy ranged towards us! The one who’s in us is larger than the one who’s on the planet (1 John 4:4).
1. See Clinton E. Arnold, Energy and Magic: The Idea of Energy in Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992), 14.
2. The ESV’s “Be strong” and “the strength of his might” characterize three Greek phrases: endunamoo, kratos, and ischus.
This text is customized from The Complete Armor of God: How Christ’s Victory Strengthens Us for Religious Warfare by Iain M. Duguid.
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