Notes on Christian Warfare (1)

“Fight the Good Fight”

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The way, the truth and the life!

The Saints Warfare   (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verses 10-20)

In the book of Ephesians, Paul does what he usually does, he lays out the doctrine first in the early chapters.Then he begins to show his readers the practical implications of that doctrine. He has shown the Ephesian Christians what they are, why they are, and how they have become what they are. Christians, that is. The glory of the Christian life has been laid before them. He has spoken to them of God’s supreme ability (3:20). He calls all Christians to live lives befitting their calling. Paul has made very clear that you cannot live as a Christian until you become a Christian. The word “finally” that commences verse ten could be translated, therefore. For he uses this word often, because of all that has gone before, here now is the implication of the matter. And he goes on to tell us of this tremendous power that is arrayed against God, his kingdom, and the saints who belong the said kingdom. He calls the saints to live lives worthy of the kingdom (4:1). To maintain the unity within the church (4:3). To grow in maturity and stability (4:14). To deal with anger (4:25f). And impurity (5:3). To be a credible witness (5:8). To be subject to one another (5:22f). So you may think well that’s fine Paul that’s sufficient to keep me busy for a while. Then he comes with this word, “finally.” Wait a minute he says, I’m not finished, there’s something else. To deal with these issues isn’t going to be quite as easy as you may think. There are some hindrances. There is your own fallen nature, there is a massively fallen and unregenerate society in which you live. And as if that were not enough, he says, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (v12). And these powers will be working against you seeking to hinder you from doing the things I’ve instructed you to do. Just great, you say. No Paul tells us as Jesus himself did that to be a disciple of Jesus means entering the mother of all wars (Luke 14:25-33). So we are told it is also our calling to proclaim and prosecute an irreconcilable war against these forces of evil and powers of darkness. We are not on the defence but an army marching forward seeking to take the high ground. Thus, we need to learn some of the principles of warfare.

The source of our power for this task is where Paul begins (v10). He has already given us a clue to this, his, God’s, mighty power (1:19). And the strength of the Lord (3:16). Make no mistake no one devoid of the Spirit and life of God in their souls can accomplish this warfare. The key phrase here is, “in the Lord” (v10). For it is in union with the Lord Jesus Christ we obtain the strength for the fight. It’s rather a case of being what you are, for as a Christian person in union with Christ, you have this constant flow and supply of his power, his might. So we need ever to be exercising our faith thus drawing strength for the fight from Jesus. The command to “be strong” is virile, it is akin to a battle cry. The thought is well expressed in the Christian song:

All hail the Lamb enthroned on high
His praise shall be our battle cry
He reigns victorious forever glorious
His name is Jesus, He is the Lord.

It is in the exalted Lamb we have an inexhaustible source of strength and power. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). It is as if Paul is saying to us as Christians, don’t you dare be weaklings, but be strong, in the Lord. It’s a command.

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2014)

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