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, for our struggle is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on the evil day and, having prevailed against everything, to stand firm. Stand, therefore, and belt your waist with truth and put on the breastplate of righteousness and lace up your sandals in preparation for the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
There’s no question about it, followers of Christ will be in a fight to the finish. Paul or whoever wrote Ephesians as a Pauline book tells us that we’re in a struggle: “…our struggle…” And that it’s not against humans. In other words, we’d better see it on an entirely other level. Yes, humans are involved, no doubt, although not always. Any way the spiritual enemy can trip us up, it will.
It is not fun being in conflict. We would like to simply bask in God’s love and peace. And the Lord wants us to know that special rest to which he invites us, into his yoke to learn from him. But part of that learning when we look at his life and what follows in Acts and the letters, not to mention what preceded it in the Hebrew Bible, often in physical terms, but even then, with spiritual entities as the primary movers, the fact is that we need to become battle hardened and battle ready, remembering that God’s people have always lived in a story which involved a spiritual conflict.
Again, I personally get tired of it. And a lot of it relates to my propensity toward anxiety and regret. “If only,” etc., etc., etc. The enemy assigned to me knows just what buttons to push. What it does with you might be entirely different, and of course each of us is unique in our experience and makeup.
We’re told in this passage, considered the classic spiritual warfare passage that we’re to be strong in the Lord, to put on and take up what God provides for the battle, and to stand firm in that. And to pray, pray, and pray some more for all God’s people. In all of this there can be no let up. Though thankfully as we’re told in Psalm 23, there are times when our Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures, leads us beside still waters, and restores our soul. But we can be sure that the battle is not over. And it’s during those times in my experience that I feel somehow that the worst is past.
For myself, and maybe this is going beyond what Scripture is telling us, but I think not: Whenever attacked, I want to progress. I want to get some good out of even my own mistakes, as well as whatever latest trick and deceit the enemy is pulling on me. To somehow go deeper and deeper into Christ, Christ’s sufferings, rather than try to manage it on my own. I have so much to learn in all of this. But I’m trying to be open and learn all I can in the midst and maelstrom of life. In and through Jesus.