You are in a spiritual battle — be aware of the wartime realities.
Despite all that Christ has done, the battle against Satan’s influences still rages. That’s why Paul says in Ephesians 6, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (vv. 10–11). The devil has schemes (crafty methods, wiles and stratagems, or fraudulent deceptions) to undermine and destroy your faith in Christ. And the only means to stand against those attacks is by the power of God.
There is a temptation when sharing the gospel with an unbeliever to say, “if you come to Jesus, you will have no more problems — life will just be wonderful always…” Ummm. No.
With this final section, Paul is telling the Ephesians that in spite of Christ’s victory, this is no time to become lackadaisical, assuming no problems from Satan will ever arise.
Everything that was said about our salvation in chapters 1-3 (and following) was true —
- We have been chosen in Christ to be holy and blameless (1:4)
- We have been adopted as God’s sons (1:5)
- Christ has redeemed us from sin (1:7)
- The Spirit has been given to us as a guarantee of what is to come (1:13-14)
- The strength that raised Christ from the dead has been made available to us (1:19-20)
- We were dead in sin and now we are alive in Christ (2:1-9)
- We have been created in Christ for good works (2:10)
- We Gentiles have been reconciled to God along with the Jews — we have been reconciled to one another and reconciled to God (2:11ff)
- We have access to the Father (2:18)
- We do not have to lose heart when tribulations arise (3:13)
- He can do far more abundantly in us than we can ask or think (3:20)
- He has given us a church body in which we mutually minister to one another (4:1-16)
- He has given us the Holy Spirit who fills us so we can walk in obedience to Christ (5:18ff)
But you are still in a battle with sin. The end of the story has been written — Christ wins — but we are still in the process of living out the final pages of that story, fighting the lingering battles, which is why Paul says things like “no longer walk like the Gentiles” (4:17) and “lay aside the old self…” (4:22).
The war is over, but there are still battles being fought as history winds down.
Don’t assume that just because Christ has won that there is no more battle. There is. John Stott was right:
“…there will be no cessation of hostilities, not even a temporary truce or cease-fire, until the end of life or of history when the peace of heaven is attained.”
If you do not feel an occasional bullet zinging past your face or the sharp cuts of shrapnel from a nearby grenade, then beware. A Christian who does not feel the pains of war is one who is no longer on the front lines and has retreated and given up. Generally the pain you feel from the battle with sin is not an indication you are not a believer, but is in fact evidence that you are a believer, because someone who has killed his conscience and ignores the Spirit does not feel those pulls.
You are in a spiritual battle. Be aware of the wartime realities. Watch for the enemy’s deceptive attacks. Purposefully put on God’s armor of salvation and Word and fight in God’s strength.