Spiritual Battle: Standing Firm – Introduction
Ephesians 6:10-20 is about the Spiritual battle that we face as Christians. We face a struggle in this life because although Christ has won our redemption and defeated death, his enemy Satan continues to attack us and try to draw us away from Him.
Until Christ comes again, or we die to be with him in heaven, we will face hardship but God has given us the resources we need to fight the battle.
It is useful to have a very brief overview of the book as a whole, so that we can understand the context in which it was written.
Ephesians is a letter written by Paul to the church of Ephesus. It is generally agreed by scholars that he wrote this whilst he was in prison. It has 6 chapters and we can break it down to two distinct sections:
Chapters 1-3 emphasise doctrine and explain to us what Christ has given us. (Theological)
- 1:3 – 2:10 The new life which God has given us in Christ. God’s sovereign plan for redemption through his Son to bring us into communion with Him
- 2:11 – 3:21 The new society that God has created through Christ. Bringing all who believe together under his headship – the Church.
Chapters 4-6 emphasise behaviour and our response to these amazing truths. (Practical)
- 4:1 – 5:21 The new standards that God expects of His church, especially unity and purity.
- 5:21 – 6:24 The new relationships into which God has brought us – harmony in the home – husbands, wives and children – and hostility to the devil and his attacks
The first 3 chapters tell Christians “What they are!” and the second three chapters tell them “To now become what they already are in Christ!!”
Paul says “This is what you are! Now live like it!”
It would be easy to think that the reason we are not fulfilling this ideal and living a worthy life, is that we are not trying hard enough, or are not committed enough.You may be tempted to think that you are not going to enough meetings, you don’t have the right spiritual gifts, or you are not as holy as the person in sitting next to you.
We are reminded that it is not a matter of effort and there is another dimension to our Christian walk and one that is often forgotten or ignored – that is a spiritual battle.We are not left on our own to fight this battle. God gives us the resources we need and at the point we need them
Paul refers to the “HEAVENLY REALMS” five times throughout the book, and makes reference to the devil on two occasions in chapter 2 and chapter 4. He makes very clear that the devil and his cohorts are powerful forces that will attack us when we follow Christ. We are warned that we will face fierce opposition when we set out on a life of faith. In fact we are guaranteed to face hardship and persecution if we proclaim the gospel. A Christian who never has any conflict or struggle in some form is a Christian who has either fallen into sin or complacency.
I am a big fan of war movies and documentaries and recently I was watching a series on the Afghanistan conflict. They interviewed a soldier who said:
“I LOVE CONTACT WITH THE ENEMY. IT IS TERRYFYING BUT IT REMINDS ME THAT I’M ALIVE”.
It may be a daunting prospect to keep your faith in the heat of the difficult times, but it is far better than giving up and being spiritually dead.
Jesus himself was subjected to intense attack and temptation from Satan, firstly at the beginning of his ministry when he went into the desert for 40 days and again in the Garden of Gethsemane before his was crucified. Satan was trying everything he could to prevent Jesus from fulfilling his mission and inflicting defeat on him.
He did it to Jesus and he does it to us! We are engaged in a spiritual battle and if we are following Christ and seeking to obey him we will face opposition. The Bible is quite clear that God has defeated Satan – this is the story of our salvation – but Satan wants to destroy the work of God and his church.
Paul had experienced this first hand. When he first went to Ephesus he was run out of the synagogue by the Jewish leaders, mimicked by the exorcists and threatened by the idol makers because he threatened their business!
He also warned of trouble from within the church in Acts 20:29-30
“I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
However, there is hope! We are not left to fight this battle alone, and Ephesians 6 gives us directives on how to be prepared and protected. In this series we will look more closely at how we can be “battle ready”