His Strength for Our Standing
“Finally…” Paul begins in Ephesians Chapter 6, verse 10.
Anytime with see Paul use the word “finally” it means we want to listen up. This is the cue for Paul’s last word, his concluding thought, his exhortatory finale. In light of the glorious themes he’s already talked about the Book of Ephesians, we want to know: what is this thing he’s been waiting to say? What is this word he’s been holding back, now ready to tell us?
Be strong in God’s strength, Paul says, finally.
And here’s how that looks: Stand.
And in case we don’t get it the first time, Paul says it three more times:
First, in verse 11, “Put on the whole armor of God for you to be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
Verse 13 just repeats verse 11, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
Then in verse 14, Paul says, “Stand therefore.”
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This command marks a change in Paul’s usual metaphor. One of Paul’s go-to images for the Christian life is that of walking, by which he means living. If I remember right, the KJV calls it “conversation.” It’s about how we conduct ourselves. “Walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4); “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7); “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16); “walk in love” (Ephesians 5:2). That all makes sense, and we’ve adopted that language ourselves. We commonly talk about our “Christian walks.”
But here in Ephesians 6 that’s not what Paul says.
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See, I think Paul assumes that we’re going to forget most of the truth that he’s laid out for us in the first five and a half chapter of Ephesians. He gets that we forget. He knows that our vision gets blurry, and that our hearing gets muffled — and he actually says that’s all spiritual.
Whatever it is that we have going on — whatever it is — it can certainly be more than spiritual (it often is), but it can never be less than spiritual.
Your interior battle, the battle against your flesh, is a battle that Satan is always trying to exploit. You might have some tangible, concrete, logistics struggles going on — we’ve got our share at our church — but they are never less than spiritual. Satan hates us, and his schemes involve everything from freak gas explosions to baby grand pianos to defaulted lease agreements to [you fill this in].
* * *
We’re fighting a spiritual battle, says Paul (Ephesians 6:12), and when we find ourselves there — when we’re losing our grip, when our eyes get heavy, when we can’t hear the truth, Paul says: don’t just do something, stand there!
The Christian life is not just a walk, it’s a stand.
And sometimes the most important thing we can do — the most faith-filled, holy thing we can do — is just dig in our heels. We don’t need to figure out how we’re going to make it then and there. We don’t need to concern ourselves with the walk; we just need to find our footing for the stand.
Stand . . . strengthened by Jesus, and by Jesus’s strength.