For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age … Ephesians 6:12
A note of tranquility and peace has pervaded our expositions in Ephesians since we began studying the epistle in January of 2009. We began with a doxology of praise, followed by a description of electing grace and the spiritual blessings bestowed upon us in Christ; we moved on to see the free gift of salvation as God raised us from the dead, and builds Christ’s temple through the pure and holy lives of a people set apart from the world and called together in Him. Here we are now, two and half years later, having finally arrived at the epistle’s final section – the uproar of a battle and a rousing call to arms! For all of the joy, peace and happiness of a life in Christ, it is nonetheless lived out on a battlefield in enemy grounds.
When we become Christians, we become citizens of heaven and are set apart and called together as a church to dwell in a settlement that is in the darkness of enemy territory. As such, we cannot leave our ramparts unguarded. We must be alert, on continual watch, be prepared, and have our armor in place. We must be aware of the schemes of the enemy. We do not fight this fight alone, but together with the rest of God’s church. We meet to discuss strategy and consider what the enemy’s next move might be – for he is a formidable and crafty enemy. We encourage one another when battle fatigue sets in. We cover each other’s back. We are supplied with both offensive and defensive arms. And we pray for one another as we fight together.
Brethren, we must be aware that wherever grace brings advance, victory, and respite, attacks will come. In the regular process of our sanctification, God permits Satan and his realm of principalities and powers to attack us in our ordinary routine of daily life. He seeks to defeat us, or at least cripple us, in our own households – in our marriages, family and workplace. It is significant that this call to arms immediately follows ‘The Household Table’ of the previous section of Ephesians – as it is in the household that we are most often defeated. We could hear the rat-tat-tat of the battle drums beating all the way back in the middle of chapter 4, when the imperatives began to flow from the pen of the apostle, as he warned us of the series of land mines laid out in the field in which we walk. Our enemy Satan seeks to destroy us by having us walk after the pattern of this world. He lays mines of deceitful lusts, lying, bitterness, anger, wrath, corrupt words, fornication, covetousness, and idolatry. He tempts us in the midst of a dark world in order that we might step on one of these mines.
Meanwhile our advocate and general in this battle, the Holy Spirit, is ever prompting us to have no fellowship with the works of darkness; He is ever exposing the enemy’s landmines before our eyes; He reminds us to walk carefully, redeeming the time for the days are evil; He directs our feet in the will of God so that we might live together in mutual submission to one another in this army. He establishes coronels, sergeants, and corporals under whose authority we serve as one military unit. He gives us rallying cries, ‘Fight the good fight! For the battle is not ours but His!’ ‘Be strong in the Lord in the power is His might!’ ‘We are more than conquerors through Him!’
Of course our victory is secure, but that does not mean that we can avoid the fight. As Christians we bear the responsibility to stand and fight, even in, and especially in, the darkness of this present age.
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