Ephesians 6:10-12 How do we get real Strength?

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.

Meanwhile,

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.

 

Ephesians 6:10-14 God’s armor is better than yours

How do you win battles?  How do you as a Christian come out victorious day after day?

6:10  For the rest (or, finally) be yourselves constantly empowered in the Lord in the realized power of His might.

Not your strength nor mine. We find strength in Him, the only strength that will give us victory in the battles we have to fight in this life.

6:11 Put on, clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be empowered to stand against the crafty methods of the devil,

We need all of God’s armor to be able to stand firm. It is not our armor; it is God’s. Our armor will not work. The reason is simple, though profound…

 6:12  Because our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,  against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual beings of the evil in the heavenlies.

“Rulers” are powerful evil spirits; “authorities” wield spiritual authority in this present evil age: “world-rulers” manage warfare on a large scale, probably at least continent-wide. We are in a war, a very real war that began in the Garden of Eden, a war against humanity, both believer and unbelievers and continues actively, aggressively, and constantly to this day.

6:13  Because of this take up the full armor of God in order that you will be empowered to stand against (these evil forces) in the evil day.

Hence the reason, the need for God’s armor. These evil forces are powerful and cunning. They are Satan’s army of fallen angels, demonic forces. To a great extent we have God’s protection against them. If not, none of us believers would be alive on this earth right now.

But God expects service from us, and that service always means battle, both small and great–and constant. There are behaviors and attitudes that bring defeat in those battles and others that bring victory.

6:14  Stand, therefore, having girded yourself (literally: loins) for service with truth, and having clothed yourselves with the breastplate of the righteousness (that is the righteousness of Jesus Christ).

Paul begins to detail what is defensive armor of the believer. The goal for the believer is to live a life of victory over God’s enemies. As humans, whenever we do not act and speak and even think with faith in God, we are vulnerable. To stand–the root word in the original occurs three times in these verses–is to avoid being knocked down, being defeated in battle.

This armor Paul writes about is God’s armor. God’s truth, the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that truth is that we stand not by our own righteousness but by the righteousness of Jesus who does not fail. It is an invunerable righteousness.

This is the key to spiritual battle, and by spiritual battle I mean day to day living as a follower of Christ. We dare not depend on our own righteousness, our own merit, our own earning the favor of God, our own will power. The road to victory is an ongoing pathway of trusting in the righteousness of our Lord and His enabling power for doing God’s will. He is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemption (1 Corintians 1:30).

We best not go into spiritual battle depending on any righteousness we claim as our own. That is a guaranteed way not to stand.

But the righteousness of Christ we have by faith–that is our secure foundation, our defensive breastplate. Not just when we were converted and came to a saving faith in Jesus death and resurrection for our salvation. But a life of dependence of Him and all He is, all He is within us, and all He can be through us in service to God the Father.

Nevertheless, at the same time, it is good to experience that righteousness in our own behavior. We can also experience Christ’s righteousness in our daily walk. What we have by faith we can experience in our choices and acts. We can make it real to ourselves and to others. “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NASB)

It is God’s will that the essence of His Old Testament law be fulfilled by us “who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” Romans 8:4.

But, again, we must never depend on any righteousness of our own, real or imagined.

The righteousness of Jesus Christ is our safeguard, our dependable, unfailing guarantee of good standing with God (Philippians 3:9;  Romans 7:25-8:1).

” I can do all things through Him (Jesus Christ) who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Are you covered with God’s armor today? Do you depend on it or on your own devices and willpower?  In these verses we have read the secret of victory.

Rest in Him, trust in Him today, depend on Him today, and act with courage–today.