Strength for Spiritual Warfare

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might…” (Ephesians 6:10)

Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:10-12

From the opening words of his letter to Christians in Ephesus and its surrounds, Paul has been intent on helping them see their privileged position “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

It is not surprising, then, that as he approaches the end of what he wants to say to them that he urges them for a final time to lay hold of the resources they have in their new life in the Lord. “Finally,” he writes, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (6:10). This is a clear call to experience the power of Christ that they have access to through their relationship with him.

They need this, he continues, because they are engaged in a conflict with unseen powers allied with the devil. “Put on the whole armour of God,” he continues, “that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (v. 12).

This formidable array of spiritual forces was very real to Paul and his readers. They lived in a world where pagan practices gave license to these powers to show themselves. People typically lived in dread of them and sought to protect themselves against them through religious practices and occult manipulation.

Here, Paul identifies these spiritual forces in several ways. He speaks firstly of the devil, a single figure of dominant power and influence. He is characterised as one who has “schemes” – that is tricky plans intent on deceiving and destroying people. In this, he is aided by other spiritual beings described as rulers, authorities, cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil. These are not mere “flesh and blood” – that is, human opponents – but supernatural beings marked by immense power and influence. They are “cosmic powers over this present darkness,” that is, they control the lives and affairs of those who live in darkness (see 2:1-3).

Now to stand against these (6:13, 14), believers need strength beyond what they possess in themselves. They need the strength of Christ’s might (v. 10). Earlier, Paul wrote of how God had raised Jesus from the dead and “seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion… and put all things under his feet…” (1:20-22). During his life on earth, Jesus had fully engaged the devil and his hosts and triumphed over them. Now, as the exalted Lord, he has complete authority over them.

And it is that authority that they (and we) are to draw upon in daily battle with these powers. Though defeated, they are still active, and still intent on opposing God and his people. Our only security against them is the power of Jesus’ might, and we are to rely on that every moment of our day.

Closing Thoughts:

  • How real is spiritual conflict with evil powers to you?
  • Do you seek the power of Christ to stand against them every day?

– Andrew Young