A Brief Meditation for the Month

August 2023

As the apostle Paul concluded his letter to the believers in Ephesus, he was guided by the Holy Spirit to draw their attention to the essential duty of protecting themselves against the attacks of their spiritual adversaries. These he described in Ephesians 6:12 as powers greater than “flesh and blood.” Identifying their source and character, he considered the engagement between the opposing sides, humanly speaking, to be unevenly matched. Like the Ephesians, all believers find themselves, because they are believers, to be the target of relentless satanic attacks again and again. Every child of God discovers through experience that the Christian’s life is one of perpetual conflict in a war that continues to the end of their earthly sojourn. In his second letter to Timothy, as the same apostle contemplated his exit from this earthly scene, he wrote: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.” 2 Timothy 4:7–8. At the end of a life devoted to God and his service, a life of spiritual conflict that left its scars upon him (Galatians 6:17), he does not lament over the hardships he had endured but speaks as a victorious warrior. However, the apostle was not triumphant because of his personal strength or determination. His enablement to overcome all his difficulties and spiritual foes came from outside of himself, while his protection in the conflict was provided by the Lord whom he served.

As an experienced veteran, Paul was qualified to advise the Ephesians, but that advice is just as valid for every believer today as it was for them. The apostle counselled the Ephesians: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might,” Ephesians 6:10. With this confidence in God, the believer is then to put on “the whole armour of God,” provided for him and defy the foe. As it has often been remarked, no protection is provided for the back among the accoutrements listed by Paul, indicating the need always to face the adversary. It should also be noted the coward who would run from the conflict is vulnerable and in great danger. We are, therefore, to engage in this spiritual warfare, not only clad in the armour provided to protect us but with confidence in the quality and sufficiency of the armour itself. Paul writes: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11. Not only does the apostle identify the hostile enmity we are up against, but he assures us we are “able to stand” against these powerful forces when we have on the entire armour provided for us. God, who knows how weak his people are and how wily and dangerous their enemy is, has provided them with the best possible means of protection. The apostle Peter exhorted the believers to whom he wrote: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Peter 5:8. Failure to make use of the protection provided is inexcusable; it leaves us exposed and vulnerable to attack from an active, energetic, and vicious enemy. In addition to the head-to-foot protective armour, a sword, “the word of God,” is provided to engage our spiritual foe, the devil. Thus, our spiritual warfare is not merely defensive but also offensive. We are to resist the devil and put him to flight (James 4:7) with the “sword of the Spirit,” the word of God. Thus, ignorance of that word and how to use it is disastrous when Satan mounts an attack. Dear believer, hold firm the shield of faith and wield this mighty sword for your own safety, giving no ground to him.

G. G. Hutton.