Monday, July 11, 2011

The Clothes Make the Man (Ephesians 6:10-20)

A lot is made of the issue of “spiritual warfare” these days. It is a concept that a lot of people are excited by, perhaps because it seems adventurous or dangerous or exciting in some way. Maybe it is at the level it is due to the fact that it is big in secular pop-culture with all the movies dealing with demonic possession that have been made since the early seventies beginning with the Exorcist. Maybe it is all thanks to Frank Peretti.

Whatever the case may be, it is all a little misguided and has gotten a lot out of hand. Here in Ephesians, Paul gives the most direct instruction regarding the spiritual conflict that the believer faces. His teaching revolves around standing firm in the face of difficulties and setting up a strong defense for daily challenges, not taking on spiritual entities and taking the battle to the enemy.

There are two things a believer is instructed to do in the face of spiritual attack: pray for God to intervene and then stand firm in our God given defenses. The “armor” that Paul describes here is not a real suit, of course. It is a symbolic way of looking at what God has given us to help us stand firm in hard time, to keep our hope alive. There are six items mentioned, but an apparent chiastic structure allows us to talk of three things really:

First, there is the Truth, or God’s Word. God has revealed truth to us through special revelation. The more time we spend reading and meditating on the truth of scripture, the easier it will be to keep our hope alive in hard times.

Second, there is the righteousness we have received in our salvation. We need to always remember that we have been justified and we are now new creatures who can stand in God’s presence. We have a relationship with God, and when He has our back, why would we worry about anything?

Lastly, we have the message of the Gospel. Through faith in Christ, we are at peace with God, and this exciting reality is something that should always be on our minds and the tips of our lips. This is the truth that we need to proclaim to a world in search of the peace that God is offering to everyone who wishes to receive it. The more we share this with others as opposed to wasting our time taking a fight to forces that have already been defeated, the better off we will be.

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