The battle is real and urgent as described by Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20. Paul begins this final section in Ephesians on spiritual warfare with “finally brethren.” This signals not so much the conclusion of the letter as the climax. In Ephesians 1-3, Paul defined doctrines that teach the unity love can bring to a church: The doctrines of the Trinity and the Church. If an individual believer or church teaches and holds to sound doctrine, there will be demonic opposition.
On the other hand, if a believer or church is weak doctrinally, they will become easy prey for the devil. Paul made this very clear in Ephesians 4:11-14. If believers do not study seriously God’s Word they will be undernourished and spiritually gullible. Jesus said it this way, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
In Ephesians 4-6, Paul showed how doctrine must be practiced in his 5 “Therefore Walk” sections. If we walk our talk we will also incur the wrath of Satan. The early church was not persecuted just for what they believed but for what they believed and lived out in the market place. They were persecuted when they hit the streets of Jerusalem with the gospel in Acts 2 and 3. In Acts 4, Satan started outwardly attacking the church and inwardly in Acts 5. Recently Brit Hume took his Christianity to the national airwaves and was plummeted by the secularists in the public media. On the other hand, if we fail to live doctrine we can “give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27).
Paul began Ephesians exulting in our spiritual blessings we enjoy in Christ in “heavenly places” in 1:3. Paul will mention “in the heavenlies” five times in Ephesians. As is seen in all five references, there is a connection between the heavenlies and believers on earth.
1) The Trinity has bestowed upon believers on earth spiritual not necessarily material blessings as a result of their involvement in our salvation.
2) We also can experience the same spiritual power on earth that resurrected and exalted Christ to the right hand of God the Father in “heavenly places” according to Ephesians 1:18-23.
3) Paul continues developing the theme of “heavenly places” by reminding us in 2:6 that positionally believers are seated together with Christ in “heavenly places.”
Positionally in Christ we are ”far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion” (1:20-21) which includes evil and good angels. Because we are positionally above evil angels we do not need to be defeated by them here on earth.
4) The new truth that all believers are equal in the Body of Christ that was uniquely revealed to Paul and others apostles by God, called the mystery of the church, was not revealed to angels.
Angels “in the heavenlies” learn this great truth by observing the unity in the local church on earth in Ephesians 3:1-10.
5) But in the last section, Paul also warns that our enemies are in “heavenly places” in 6:12.
Like our blessings, power, and position, our enemies are spiritual rather than physical or material. Their goal is to rob us of our spiritual blessings, power, and position. In Job 1, Satan goes to God in the heavenlies for permission to attack Job on earth. In Daniel 10, God sent an angel to answer Daniel’s prayer which was intercepted by an evil angel. Michael the archangel intervenes so Daniel’s prayer on earth can be answered.
There is a spiritual warfare waging in the heavenlies that impacts us on earth. But greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Paul is going to equip us to do hand to hand, face to face combat with our arch foe and defeat him in the power of God’s might.
Paul begins the final section of Ephesians by instructing us how to resist the devil.
First, by depending on God’s strength in verses 10 and 11 a.
There is a very important balance in these verses. We are made strong with God’s might. When Paul wrote “be strong in the Lord” he employed the passive. Be made strong by the Lord. We can only be victorious with God’s strength and help. The same power that resurrected and seated Christ in the heavenlies is resident in us. We must, however, appropriate that power.
Next, Paul commands, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Did you catch the balance? We must actively put on what God has provided to stand in the battles of life. When Jesus was tempted for 40 days he stood against Satan by quoting Scripture he had committed to memory. He had on the belt of truth and the wielded skillfully the sword of the Spirit. Jesus stood. He did not retreat. He did not lie down in defeat. Are you taking advantage of every opportunity to be skillful with God’s Word in order to stand in the battle?
In the next post, we will look at the seven pieces of armor provided by God that we must put on to stand and resist the devil.