Ephesians 6:10-13, 1 Corinthians 10:12, Hebrews 2:14b
Our reading today is from Ephesians chapter 6, we begin with verse 10.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-13)
Number of years ago a pastor came into his country church in northern Minnesota and discovered that up on the altar there had been a whole bunch of things done by some vandals who had broken in. When the local police came to investigate they determined that it had been some type of satanic cult that had been out there.
It’s not too often when we think of the work of the devil being such a visible thing. As Saint Paul says here ‘we do not struggle against flesh and blood.’ In other words things we can see, the way you could maybe see a soldier. But he says ‘we struggle against spiritual hosts of wickedness. Spiritual hosts of darkness.’ The devil and his followers are invisible to us and yet God wants us to know that this actual enemy really does exist and we need to we need to respect his temptations of us.
Walt Disney has reduced the the form of the devil into something that’s sort of like mermaids and Hercules and because of that it’s easy for us to think that these are just something that’s superstition but God wants us to have a healthy respect for Satan’s cleverness. In fact the word that he uses here to describe the work of the devil is the word from which we get the word method. Methodeias, μεθοδείας, in the Greek which means that he’s scheming, he’s plotting to try and find a way to take us away from Christ as our Savior.
So this isn’t something to play around with. The Bible says ‘to whoever thinks he stands be careful that you do not fall.’ (1 Corinthians 10:12) So know that if you are a child of God who believes in Jesus as your Savior and puts your trust in him, if you desire to follow God in His Word, then understand that you are going to be under attack from this enemy.
And he has everyone else in his control already. So the ones he has to spend his time working on will be those who are faithful Christians in Christ. And that will last all the way to the end of our life. I remember once an elderly pastor came to visit me. He was now retired but he sat in my office and talked to me about all the different assaults that he felt he was feeling now from the devil to question his faith, something he had preached to people his whole life.
So the devil doesn’t let up on us, but notice what St. Paul says: he wants us to find our confidence in Christ himself and in the armor that he provides. Now notice something here Paul doesn’t say ‘be strong in yourself’ or he doesn’t say ‘be strong in your faith.’ If I’m supposed to rely on the strength of my faith I’m in trouble because I know my faith goes up and down all over the place. But Paul doesn’t send you to your faith for your security. He sends you rather to Christ. Notice he says ‘be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.’ And if you look at the verses following this that describe all the pieces of armor in the life of a Christian all of these pieces of armor don’t simply talk about Christ, they are Christ. When we have faith in our Savior we are armored with Christ himself and Christ has such authority and power over the devil that he can crush him just with a single word.
In fact he was able to crush him even by dying. We’re told in the book of Hebrews,
By his death he has destroyed him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil. (Hebrews 2:14)
And this is why God has us baptized into Christ. Through faith in Christ we are now full of this wonderful armor that protects us against the devil as we look forward to the day that he takes us to heaven. But even in this life by faith Paul, says we are more than conquerors over the devil. Amen.