In the early 70’s Flip Wilson, a popular comedian, made the phrase famous—The Devil made me do it! It’s easy to joke about the devil, ignore him, or make too much of his power in our spiritual lives. Paul gives us a balanced approach to facing off with the devil in Ephesians 6. It is unwise to ignore him but unnecessary to fear him.
I had the privilege to be under the teaching of J.I. Packer recently, and his thoughts regarding Paul’s instructions to all Christians from Ephesians 6 were inspiring. Packer suggests that Christians today are not instructed effectively about our faith. In this passage, Paul is giving us the Christian instruction necessary to receive the victory we are lacking in our daily walk with Christ. An explanation of the failure of Christians to live as Christians may be found in their lack of understanding of what the Christian life is about.
Packer’s outline included seven catechismal questions; your answers will reveal if you are living in Christian victory or defeat.
- Do you know who the enemy is? (Ephesians 6:11-12)
- Do you know where the conflicts are? (Ephesians 6:12)
- Do you know what sort of war you are engaging in? (Ephesians 6:12)
- Do you know what God wants and expects of you as His child? (Ephesians 6:13)
- Do you know what armor God has given you in order to equip you for this encounter? (Ephesians 6:13-17)
- Do you know how to keep in touch with the God we serve? (Ephesians 6:18)
- Do you know how to be an encourager of people’s hearts? (Ephesians 6:21-23)
Our enemy is Satan, and he is clever and scheming. He does his best to disguise himself as your friend and make you think that the people you live among are your real enemies. Don’t get deceived. He is an intelligent enemy, and we are fools if we do not allow the Spirit of God within us to open our eyes to his deceptions. The conflicts are in heavenly places—not confined to this world alone. We cannot see or measure everything that permeates our lives. God knows we cannot fully grasp all that is involved, but what we can understand is that we must go armed. Our focus is to be on the armor of God which He provided to overcome the conflict that is beyond our intelligence. We are engaged in a defensive war—we are told to stand firm. Standing firm means resting in the promises of God and believing them, no matter what we see the enemy doing in the world. The victory has been won through Jesus Christ; our part is to believe and live in the victory. God expects His children to understand that they are under attack and being constantly tempted away from Him. He wants His children to believe in their adoption and great inheritance rather than remain overly attached to this world. God gives us His armor to equip us for the battle—belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, helmet of salvation, shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit. We must go armed into the world, and mentally putting on this armor every day will help us remember that we are in a war and that we are constantly tempted to ignore God’s great love for us. The way we keep in touch with our Commander is through prayer. Daily we are to be like Tychicus whom Paul sent to encourage the hearts of other believers. We are in this war together, and together we help each other stand firm.
The enemy of our souls is real and intelligent; the Savior of our Souls is far more powerful and loving. Satan is no problem for His love. We can find victory through Christ. Don’t neglect the reality that being a Christian means you are at war with the world. Jesus said it Himself in John 16:3: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”