Strength For The Struggle | Ephesians 6:10-13

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  • Strength For The Struggle | Ephesians 6:10-13
  • I love God. I trust Christ. I obey the word. But it seems I have more struggles than before I was a Christian. Why?

    • Have you ever asked this question? 
    • Are you asking this question now?

    The question is based on the false assumption that being saved ends your struggles. You will face struggles you would not have if you were not in Christ. But there is strength for the struggle. Ephesians 6:10 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” 

    Ephesians 6:10-20 is the final section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. It may be considered a third section of the letter. Chapters 1-3 present the doctrine we must believe. 4:1-6:9 present the duty we must fulfill. 6:10-20 presents the difficulties we must overcome. Chapters 1-3 are about the believer’s spiritual wealth. 4:1-6:9 is about the believer’s spiritual walk. 6:10-20 is about the believer’s spiritual warfare. In chapters 1-3, Christians are seated with Christ in the heavenly places. In 4:1-6-9, Christians are instructed to walk in faithand obedience. In 6:10-20, Christians are called to stand in victory. 

    Ephesians 6:10-20 is the most complete statement about spiritual warfare in the Bible. It is also the only New Testament passage that describes Christian living as a battle. This section on spiritual warfare follows the instructions on Christian duty. If you live out your faith in obedience, Satan will fight back. 

    • Your personal devotion to Christ will be attacked. 
    • Your doctrinal convictions will be attacked. 
    • Your fellowship with others will be attacked. 

    The Christian life is an ongoing struggle. Christianity is a battleground, not a playground. You must be a strong Christian to stand firm in spiritual warfare.

    Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb? 
    And shall I fear to own His cause, or blush to speak His name? 
    Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, 
    While others fought to win the prize and sailed on bloody seas? 
    Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood? 
    Is this vile world a friend to grace to help me on to God? 
    Sure, I must fight if I would reign; increase my courage, Lord; 
    I'll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word. 

    How can I gain strength for the struggle? 

    The Believer’s Strength 

     The Lord Jesus Christ is strong. We are weak, finite, sinful people. We cannot face the flesh, world, and devil alone. The strength needed for victory is in the Lord. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.”

    Strong Christian trust the Lord. 

    Trust the Lord for salvation. Verse 10 exhorts us to be strong “in the Lord.” If you are not in the Lord, you cannot access his strength. You must trust Christ for salvation. Romans 5:8 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” The pride of the unbeliever makes him think he is strong. The life of sin is the epitome of weakness. The only hope for weak sinners is to trust the Lord for salvation. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 states: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

       Trust the Lord for strength

      • You cannot be strong if you are not in the Lord. 
      • You are not strong because you are in the Lord. 

      The strength you need is available, not automatic. You must trust the Lord for strength. Proverbs 3:5-6says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” 

      1 Samuel 30:6 records how David responded in a moment of crisis: “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” David did not encourage himself with positive self-talk. David’s enemies defeated him. His soldiers were near revolt. David prayed and found strength in the Lord. Some things we blame on the enemy may be the Lord’s work to force us to trust him. 

      Strong Christians obey the Lord. Verse 10 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” This is a divine imperative. To live in spiritual weakness is to live in spiritual rebellion. God commands you to be strong. The grammar indicates continuous, repeated, or ongoing activity. It is a way of life. This strength is internal but not inherent. We are to be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might. Strength is found in submission to the Lordship of Christ. You cannot experience divine enablement if you do not submit to divine authority. 

      James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

      • Spiritual warfare is not about learning how to fight the devil. 
      • Spiritual warfare is about learning how to obey the Lord.

      On the eve of the battle of Jericho, Joshua encountered an unidentified warrior with his sword drawn. Joshua asked, “Are you for us or our adversaries?” Joshua 5:14 answers, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” The Lord does not take sides. He takes over! During the U.S. Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was asked if he thought the Lord was on the side of the Union. He answered, “It does not matter if the Lord is on our side. It only matters if we are on the Lord’s side.”Whose side are you on?

      The Believer’s Supply  

      Verse 11 records a divine command and the intended result: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

      Put on the whole armor of God. Verse 11 exhorts: “Put on the whole armor of God.” This command in verse 11 fulfills the command in verse 10. The way to be strong in the Lord is to put on the whole armor of God. Strong Christians are dressed for battle. Ephesians 4:24 says, “Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” This new spiritual wardrobe includes battle attire. As the Roman soldier wore armor to protect his body, the Christian soldier wears armor to guard his soul. 

        What is the whole armor of God? Verses 14-17 answer: “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

        • God owns the armor in divine sovereignty. 
        • God gives the armor in divine generosity. 
        • God wears the armor in divine justice. 

        Isaiah 59:17 says, “He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.” The whole armor of God is the Lord’s battle gear. God extends his armor to those who trust in Christ.

        Put on the whole armor. It does not matter if you have the belt of truth if you do not have the breastplate of righteousness. It does not matter if you have the shoes of the gospel if you do not have the helmet of salvation. It does not matter if you have the shield of faith if you do not have the sword of the spirit. These are not individual accessories. It is a complete wardrobe. You will fall for the whiles of the devil if you do not put on the whole armor of God. 

        Stand against the schemes of the devil.  Christians have three spiritual enemies. 

        • The world is our external enemy. 
        • The flesh is our internal enemy. 
        • The devil is our infernal enemy. 

        Verse 11 says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” This exhortation assumes the devil is real. C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” 

        It is foolish to deny the existence of the devil. You do not believe the Bible if you do not believe in the devil. If Jesus viewed Satan as a real person, so should you. Yet it is also foolish to become preoccupied with the devil’s plans, works, and hosts. 

        The power of Satan is not force but cunning. It is not might but deceit. It is not strength but trickery. Put on the whole armor of God to stand against “the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 4:14 states the goal of the spiritual growth process is “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” Satan uses deceitful schemes of false teaching to defeat Christians. The New Testament never instructs Christians to attack Satan and his forces.

        We put on the whole armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil. When tempted to do wrong, flee as Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife, who tried to get him to go to bed with her. When attacked for doing right, stand your ground as Daniel did, even though it landed him in the lion’s den. Strong Christians stand firm against the devil’s schemes. 

        The Believer’s Struggle

        Verse 11 exhorts the Christian soldier to put on the whole armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil. Verse 12 explains why: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

          Our struggle is not against human forces.  Verse 12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood.” “Wrestle” is hand-to-hand combat to the death. It is a death-match. Yet we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. “Flesh and blood” is an idiom for humanity. Our struggle is not against human forces.

          This statement does not deny the reality of human opposition. This passage is strategically placed alongside the instructions for the believer’s marriage, family, and work relationships. There will be times when you have to do the will of God in spite of your husband or wife, parents or children, boss or employees. But people are not your biggest problem. We lose battles because we show up for the wrong fight. 

          • Christians are not called to fight people. 
          • We have no business fighting one another. 

          2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

          Our struggle is against spiritual forces. Verse 12 says: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Any attempt to define or distinguish between these terms is speculative. The emphasis is on the term repeated six times in this passage, five times in this verse, and four times in reference to our spiritual enemies: “against.” We wrestle against the rulers. We wrestle against the authorities. We wrestle against the cosmic powers over this present darkness. We wrestle against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

          Our spiritual enemy is invisible, powerful, and organized. Our struggle is against “spiritual forces of evil.” This is the only place in the New Testament the word “spiritual” has a negative connotation. People say, “I am not religious. I am spiritual.” There is nothing inherently virtuous about being spiritual. Every person is a spirit being living in a physical body. Being spiritual is nothing to brag about. Satan and demons are spiritual too! 1 John 4:4 says, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

          The Believer’s Steadfastness

          Verse 13 says: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” When is the evil day? The days before Christ’s Second Coming will be particularly evil. But this is not about the last days. It is about the present day. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Yet Paul was not just referring to the cultural situation of his day. The evil day is any day the enemy attacks. 

          • When you are a new believer in Christ. 
          • When you are spiritually idle. 
          • When you are isolated from other believers. 
          • During times of loss, sorrow, or trouble. 
          • During seasons of transition in your life. 
          • After you have won a victory. 
          • When you are near to death.

          The enemy will never call you to warn you an attack is coming tomorrow, the following week, or next month. It will always be a sneak attack. The evil day may be any day. Be ready for battle every day. Verse 13 says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of god, that you may be able to withstand against the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” What is the mark of a strong Christian? It is the perseverance of the saints. Being a strong Christian has nothing to do with health, wealth, favor, prosperity, or success. It is staying power when you have none of those things. Strong Christians keep standing.


          H.B. Charles Jr.

          Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.