Luke 15:10 says, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” If angels rejoice over one sinner repenting, there must be an opposite and equal reaction of our enemy. For every inch we take for the Kingdom, Satan and his demons double down on their efforts to distract, disrupt, and divide the church. E.M. Bounds in his book Guide to Spiritual Warfare says, “His (Satan) supreme effort is to gain control of the church, not destroy its organization, but to pervert its divine purpose.” Paul clarifies this issue in Ephesians 6, and notes this is not a battle against flesh and blood, but against our enemy Satan. Make no mistake about it, we are at war. However, as dangerous as our enemy is, there is something even more dangerous to the advancement of the Kingdom, negligence that there is even a war taking place and we as God’s people are the target. The bottom line is we need to be schooled in the art of warfare. Ephesians 6:10-11 gives us a couple tools we can add to our tool-belt, that will keep us ready for any spiritual battle.
1) Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
One of my favorite things to watch when I was younger was wrestling. Being a child of the 80’s, there was no wrestler that I loved more than the Immortal Hulk Hogan. I was a Hulkamaniac, “Say your prayers, take your vitamins,” all packaged with the 24-inch pythons. Hogan, in his heyday, stood 6’7’’ and over 300 pounds. His sheer size made him a mighty man, without even lifting a finger. In 1987, at Wrestlemania III, Hulk Hogan put his mighty power on display as he body slammed the 500 pound Andre the Giant.
David Guzik made this observation, “God has a vast reservoir of might that can be realized as power in our Christian life. But His might does not work in me as I sit passively. His might works in me as I rely on it, and step out to do the work.” The first lesson in the art of spiritual warfare, is that we cannot face Satan in our own power. The disciples were reminded of this fact in Mark 9:14-29 (Jesus Heals a Boy Possessed by an Impure Spirit), as they asked Jesus why they were unable to drive out this certain kind of demon. Jesus reveals this kind only comes out through prayer.
Just think about all the different ways we leave the door cracked open to our enemy when we act in our own strength. When we allow our finances to be the source of our safety and security, instead of the promises of God. When we try to power through the day in our own efforts, instead of asking God to provide us with more strength. For the church, when our business is not leading us to effectiveness. The list goes on and on, but we must face the reality, if we are to help in advancing the Kingdom, we have to first rely on God’s mighty power, not our own.
2) Put on the full armor of God.
First, we rely on God’s power. Second, we do our part. As Guzik reminds us, war cannot be approached with a passive mindset, it calls us to action. The next step in spiritual battles, is being prepared. No solider goes to war without training and suiting up for battle.
As you may remember, I was a juvenile corrections officer for over 4 years. I remember one of my first training days we simply learned what each piece of equipment was on our belt and how to use it. Not only did I need to become familiar with each tool, but I also needed to know the appropriate time to utilize each tool. On each correction officer’s belt we had 9 essential tools:
Each of these tools were essential to doing our job and through persistent practice, each officer becomes both comfortable and proficient in their use.
In this same manner, Paul instructs us in Ephesians 6, we need to “Put on the full armor of God.” A soldier does not put on armor, unless he intends to use it. However, just like learning to use those tools as a corrections officer, our first responsibility is to know what tools are available to us:
I encourage you to do a refresh in Ephesians 6:14-20. Next, we learn how to use them through practice. Most obvious, the sword (the word of God), must be read and put into use daily. Most importantly, we need to know when to use each piece of armor. As a corrections officer, I could not employ my OC spray whenever I liked, it required proper conditions. Evaluate your situation and use your armor accordingly and you too will be able to “Stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11).”
Remember to be a blessing to someone else today!
Tuesday Morning on the Run
Inspirational thoughts from Pastor Barry Lawson