Stand (6:11, 13, 14)
This is not the word that comes to mind when I think of warfare. I think of attacking, surging, hand-to-hand combat, offensive, and other aggressive words. But the most repeated action word in Paul’s classic passage on spiritual warfare is “stand.” I think this is because I think of having to win the battle, but the battle has already been won.
When I think of winning the battle I unduly wrestle with both pride and fear; pride that I could be the hero and fear that I might fail. When I understand my role in the battle – not to surrender conquered ground – then these temptations make much less sense. When I get caught up in whether I am strong, brave, or smart enough these concerns lure me from my primary duty – standing firm. It is only when I fail to stand on God’s grace and Christ’s victory that I can be defeated.
Reflection: How do you visualize spiritual warfare? Do you think as if it is a battle already won or a battle you have to win? How does understanding your primary orders as “standing firm” relieve much of the pressure associated with spiritual warfare? Think of your moments of temptation. What does it look like to stand firm in Christ’s victory in those moments?
Pray that Words May Be Given (6:18-19)
Spiritual warfare is the battle for the souls of unbelievers and the character of believers. As we just saw, the battle for the character of believers is to stand firm in the righteousness of Christ that we were given at our salvation. However, Scripture focuses the battle for the souls of unbelievers more on the faithfulness of believers to share the gospel than the convincing of unbelievers to respond.
In Ephesians 6:19 Paul asks for prayer, “For me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,” and echoes the prayer request of Jesus in Matthew 9:37-38, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” We, again, tend to get caught up in our effectiveness more than our faithfulness.
Application: Pray regularly for your faithfulness and the faithfulness of individual members of your church to share the gospel with lost friends. That is spiritual warfare. No where in Scripture does it tell us to pray that lots of people w
ill respond to our sharing the gospel. That is God’s work and God will be faithful to the sharing of His Word. Scripture knows that the weakest link in God’s battle plan is our faithfulness to speak. Pray for this frequently and fervently.
The Armor of God
Our role in the battle of spiritual warfare is clear – to stand firm in Christ’s victory on our behalf and speak clearly of Christ’s victory for those who have not received it. In outfitting believers to complete this battle plan, Paul describes six pieces of armor that are required. Use the following reflective questions to assess your “fitness for battle.”
The Belt of Truth: Do you acknowledge your own sin and speak with love to the sin’s of those near you? Or do you live in denial by calling sin by other names or not holding the sinner accountable for his/her actions?
The Breastplate of Righteousness: Do you live with a defeated mindset assuming righteousness is too hard for you? Or do you live in recognition that the righteousness of Christ has already been given to you?
The Shoes of the Gospel: Do you look for ways to improve yourself in your own strength and by sheer determination? Or do you face each challenge recognizing that apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5)?
The Shield of Faith: As you face each challenge, do you try to assess whether you are up to the difficulty presenting itself? Or as you face each challenge, do you compare the difficulty to the size, power, and compassion of your God?
The Helmet of Salvation: Do you live as if the most important things in life have yet to be done and depend upon your daily effort to be accomplished? Or do you live in the peace of knowing that the only thing that will last forever has already been accomplished and is secure?
The Sword of the Spirit: Do you face each challenge wondering where you will get the “practical” wisdom and insight in order to know what to do? Or do you daily study God’s Word in faith trusting that all you need for life and godliness is contained in the Bible (2 Pet 1:3)?