[Nov 11]—Don’t Fight Naked! Part One

            Now we’re returning to the last few verses in Ephesians, and I guess it's only appropriate that today on Veteran's Day we start looking at the famous "Armor Of God" passage. 
            Before we get to the actual armor, though, Paul introduces us to the concept and lays out some general principles we need to absorb:

·         Realize that you’re in a continuous battle. Yes, the ultimate war was won 2,000 years ago at the cross and empty tomb. That’s one of the main points of the Ascension: It was Jesus’ triumphal reentry back into Glory and to sit back down on his throne at his Father’s side. At that time, the Father officially declared that all of creation was under the authority of his Son, and placed all things under his feet.

But. . . we still do battle with the Enemy. It’s the rough equivalent of Berlin when it was surrounded by the Allies in the final days of World War 2 in Europe. Hitler’s days could literally be counted on one hand, but a lot of German troops fought on in what they knew was a lost cause. Jesus promised that the gates of Hell wouldn’t withstand the assault of his Church, so it’s the Enemy’s Kingdom which is under siege, not our Lord’s (no matter what it might look like to our limited perspective). And this Enemy fights tooth and nail against the incursion of his Kingdom. It’s bad enough when a lost person turns to Christ, but if that newly redeemed child of God starts to grow in his faith, Satan will do literally everything in his power to stifle it. If the Lord's starting to move in a certain area, you can count down the minutes before the Adversary shows up to try to throw a monkey-wrench in his work. Paul’s entire passage here presupposes that we’re going to face spiritual opposition anytime we decide to do things God’s way.
Please get it in your head that this Adversary never gives up. He never takes a break, much less a vacation. He never lets up the pressure on us. He never gives an inch unless he’s forced to. And whether you’re interested in him or not, he’s interested in you, especially if you’re doing something to merit his attention.

·         Your job is to stand against his evil schemes. Please note that while Paul is using the military language of frontal assaults, that could cause some misunderstanding. It’s not so much frontal assaults that I need to be most concerned about: It’s his schemes. The most deadly weapon in his arsenal is his ability to lie. Jesus said he’s the father of lies, and every lie comes either directly or indirectly from him. Yes, he might occasionally do “frontal” assaults on us like physical ailments, or financial hardship, or a whole host of terrible things happening to us all at once (like he did with Job). But most of the time he’s a lot more subtle than that.

·         You need to fight the right battle on the right front. This is a spiritual battle, and thus won’t be won with physical means. The world uses bullets, bombs, and other physical means to fight out its battles. And as someone pointed out long ago, politics is war by other means. Unfortunately, the Church sometimes imitates the world in this way. Yes, I believe that Christians should be politically active. I’m not a pacifist, so I believe that physical armies have their place in the world. I’m not against believers working together in the political realm when the situation calls for it. For example, we need to pass more Pro-Life legislation, and that means electing more Pro-Life politicians. But we have to put our main focus on winning on the spiritual front. The struggle to pass Pro-Life laws is only a small part of the battle when a culture/society is turning away from God’s word en masse. “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.” Does our emphasis show this?

Over the next few days we’re going to look at what Paul says about the real battle and how to fight it. Let’s hear what he has to say, and put it into practice. Let’s go into battle doing things his way. Otherwise, we’re showing up to fight naked, and that’s a bad thing.

Father God, we’re going forward in your battle plan. We’re going to listen to your orders, and obey. We’re going to fight this your way, and by doing so our victory is assured. By your empowering grace, let this be so. 

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