6:10 Finally (literally: for the rest, that is of this epistle), be yourselves continually empowered in the Lord and in the strength (or power) of His might (or ability, force),
Paul is heading toward the end of his epistle, and here he focuses on a vital aspect of spiritual living in this world. Our need for God’s strength.
What is the source of ultimate strength?
This is an age of the individual and self-esteem. And an aspect or side-effect of that cultural emphasis that can affect us all is self-reliance and pride of accomplishment. Taken to extreme this is self-glorification that forgets to give God the credit He is due.
Accomplishments and progress are good.
On the one hand, there is nothing wrong with feeling good about accomplishments and progress. Just be on your guard that it does not lapse into ego when we yield to the ever-present temptation to think we are better than others. Follow the Scripture: Galatians 6:4 “But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another” (NASB). In other words, if you feel a need to compare, compare how you’re doing now with how you were doing before. It’s wise not to compare yourself with other people.
But give God the credit for all that is good.
On the other hand, what’s essential is to actually live in the awareness that all our accomplishments and good qualities trace right back to the God who made us. He deserves the praise, the glory, the credit. It’s a key ingredient to thanksgiving and gratitude.
What is Paul’s inspired advice for walking in that strength. That’s next…
6:11 Put on (clothe yourselves with) the full armor of God so that you may be strengthened to stand against the schemes (methods, crafts, deceits) of the devil;
He says we should clothe ourselves with God’s armor. It has been pointed out by many that this armor is mainly defensive (with one exception–more on this later).
Why do we need armor?
Because we need it to shield us from the devil’s temptations, which are constant. If we seek to arm ourselves with our willpower alone, we will fail. Only God’s strength alone can assure our victory. And…
6:12 Because our struggle (fight, contest) is not against blood and flesh but against the rules, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spirits (or, spiritual beings) of evil in the heavenlies.
How do we do battle with the evil so evident in this world, with temptation, with evil forces including the devil: Prayer, action, and words. And those words can include faith declarations. On the latter, faith declarations, recall Jesus words: “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” (Mark 11:23, NASB). Jesus’s challenge in this verse could be loosely considered a prayer, but technically it’s more of a declaration, and it takes faith. We have authority in Jesus Christ as his followers.
Would that we had the faith to do great things for Him here and now.
Also, it’s vital to see in this verse that we are greatly mistaken when we blame others for our problems or see them as an evil to be conquered. Certainly there is a necessity for the punishment of crime, but that is a governmental function, not a Christian duty. The force behind all evil is the devil and his helpers. Those are the blame-worthy parties when it comes to our struggle against evil, both done by others and by ourselves. I will even go so far as to say that it is a mistake to try to punish ourselves for our sinful acts. Our duty is to confess those acts and let God take care of them and cleanse us (1 John 1:9).
We waste our time battling humans, not to mention the harm we can do.
The real culprit is the devil in the spiritual realm. Hating others is wrong, Anger is not encouraged in our Bible teaching. Anger is tricky, volatile, and can all-too-easily go too far. Better to take to heart the fact that the wrongs others do to us do indeed have their source in the spiritual realm.
Now a word of caution.
Actually this is from C. S. Lewis’s writing. He advises us be aware of evil spirits but not to be preoccupied with them, which can be emotionally unhealthy. But I strongly advise that you not yield to the temptation to be “politically correct” and let yourself be swayed by the current derision or contempt for the truth of the existence of demons and even Satan himself. To do so is to deny the truth about them contained in our Bible.
So how do we put on that armor, gain that strength of the Lord?
By faith, by believing we already have it, for one thing. Also by being filled with the Holy Spirit, by walking in fellowship with the Lord, making our lives shared lives, meaning ongoing, active friendship with God and with each other.
The verses coming up in the next post get into the specifics of what that armor consists of–good descriptions to focus on for living by faith.
Do you feel that you are walking in the power of God, in the strength of His might? 1 Corinthians 3:3 implies that we should be living not as mere human beings.