two basics on spiritual warfare

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power; put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil,

Ephesians 6:10-11; NRSVue

Whether we like it or not, we’re in a spiritual battle in this life; there’s no two ways about it. We might want to or automatically chalk up our struggles to this or that psychological issue, or a host of other things. And it’s not like those things can’t play in, nor that we should ignore them. We may get some significant help for example from some psychiatrist or professional counselor. Probably most of us would benefit from something of that.

But mark it down: we in Christ are in an all out battle spiritually. Not physically, but spiritually. This is personal but it does go beyond the personal into realms held down by the spiritual enemy in human entities and spaces, systemic issues where the powers hold sway. There’s no escape from this, so that we might as well face it. And we actually have to have the willingness to be in the struggle, engage in it. But how do we do that?

Ephesians 6:10-18 (you can include 19, 20 as well), click link above, is considered the classic spiritual warfare passage. And the recent updated edition of the NRSV (hard copies due around May) has a slight change here which maybe helps, closely coupling the two points in the quote from scripture, above.

First, we’re to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. When we’re aware of the spiritual battle we’re in, we often feel quite weak, having no strength at all. I’m thinking now of something Daniel went through during which he felt like strength had left him, totally weak. This is not a comfortable place to be, to say the least. But it’s necessary and the precursor to taking on the Lord’s strength. It’s the Lord’s strength, not our own, and yet somehow, we’re to take it on. We’re told to be strong in the Lord, in the strength of his power. As this power takes over, we’ll know it’s not our strength, not our power, but the Lord’s.

Then we’re told to put on the whole armor of God, so that we might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. That means we’ll need to go through the rest of this passage, considering carefully the parts named there: belted with truth, breastplate of righteousness, sandals laced up in preparation for the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit- the word (rhēma, ῥῆμα) of God. And with that, ongoing prayer in the Spirit.

We need to be aware of this, and we soon will be if we’re serious about following the Lord fully and being a help to others through the help we’ve received and are receiving from God. In and through Jesus.