Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 28 2013 - Ephesians 6:1-24 – Spiritual warfare

I'm not very keen on conflict. I do my best to avoid it. Nevertheless, there are some conflicts we just cannot avoid for we live in a battle zone. The devil is actively engaged in promoting his schemes to undo the purposes of God for his world. We see his handprint on every part of our world. We see it in the character of our society with its divisions of race and language and class. We see it in the gross inequities of the mega-salaries and bonuses drawn by the few while others have scarce enough to live on and to feed their families. We see it in patterns of global inequity and exploitation, often reinforced by the institutions of the powerful. We see it in the ravaging of our planet through human greed and the insatiable demand for more: in oceans cleared of their diverse stock of fish; in forests torn down and burnt; in oil and coal torn out of the ground at the cost of many lives and to the poisoning of our environment. We see it in the relationships between people, where there is conflict, anger and hatred and the desire to "get them before they get you." We see it in the drama of politics; the battles to gain and retain power. And we see it in the church where there is division, argument and bickering; where there are hierarchies of power and of control and the cult of personality. We experience it in our own lives when we are torn between doing what is good and right and doing what we want – living to please ourselves.

We feel our own weakness. We do not have the strength or appetite for the battle. We just want to withdraw into an asylum of peace. But God calls us to be soldiers of the kingdom – seeking to push back the forces of darkness and establish a bridgehead for the kingdom of God. And he has provided us with all that we need for the battle: armour for our defence and weapons for the fight. We need to take them up and to make use of them – of the weapons of God's word and Spirit rather than human sarcasm or party-spirit. We need to engage in the battle with wisdom to determine the front for our warfare. And, above all, we need to watch over our own hearts that the battle may not be lost there.

Soldiers of Christ, arise,
And put your armour on,
Strong in the strength
Which God supplies
Through his eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of Hosts,
And in his mighty pow'r,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts
Is more than conqueror.

Stand then in his great might,
With all his strength endued;
But take, to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God.
Leave no unguarded place,
No weakness of the soul;
Take ev'ry virtue, ev'ry grace,
And fortify the whole.

To keep your armour bright,
Attend with constant care;
Still walking in your Captain's sight,
And watching unto prayer.
From strength to strength go on;
Wrestle and fight and pray;
Tread all the pow'rs of darkness down,
And win the well-fought day.

We need to fight the battles of the kingdom with word and Spirit rather than hatred and violence – with weapons that break down Satan’s strongholds but give life to those he has held captive. We need to engage in the battle in the knowledge that we serve one who is King of kings and Lord of lords and that the outcome of the battle is not in doubt; Jesus has already won the victory and will crush Satan under our feet.

Lord Jesus, make me strong in the strength you supply that I may fight against all the powers that are opposed to your glorious purposes. Above all, help me to watch over my own heart that the enemy may never find a welcome or a foothold here.

Peter Misselbrook